Susan Muaddi Darraj

Fiction Writer and Creator of #TweetYourThobe

“Changing hearts and minds: the transformational power of literature”


Panel: Changing hearts and minds: the transformational power of literature

The written word has the power to change both hearts and minds. How does the transformative power of literature work? How has it been used to support Palestinian identity and rights and how might literature been used to try to negate it? What is the role of publishers, agents and publicists in this process and how have Palestinian writers been marginalized? How have Palestinian writers been able to break through despite these and other obstacles?

This panel features four Palestinian writers who will not only share personal stories that influenced their writing, but also reflect on the future of Palestinian literature. 

Susan Muaddi Darraj's Bio

Susan Muaddi Darraj is Associate Professor of English at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. A 2018 USA Ford Fellow, Susan is also a Lecturer in the Johns Hopkins University’s MA in Writing program and a faculty member in Fairfield University‘s MFA program.

In 2014, her short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique. The book was published in December 2015 by the University of Massachusetts Press. It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press.

In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. Susan also is a two-time recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. She has also been awarded a Ruby’s Artist Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation.

In 2019, she launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. Later that year, she was named winner of the Rose Nader Award, by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an award given by the Nader family to a person who “demonstrates an unwavering dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice.”

In January 2020, Capstone Books launched her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar.

She edited Scheherazade’s Legacy: Arab and Arab American Women on Writing , which was published in 2004 by Praeger Publishers. With Waïl Hassan, she co-edited a volume for the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature Series on Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. She has also contributed book chapters to several anthologies and collections, including Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Fiction and Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. Her other books include young adult biographies of Indira Gandhi, Amy Tan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others, for Chelsea House Publishers.

Susan is an editor at Barrelhouse Magazine and former editor-in-chief of The Baltimore Review. Her fiction has appeared in New York Stories, The Orchid Literary Review, Mizna, Sukoon, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Banipal, and elsewhere. Her articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Little Patuxent Review, The Baltimore City Paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Al-Jadid, Baltimore Magazine, Pages Magazine, Sojourner, Calyx, Urbanite,  and other forums.

A co-founder (along with the editors of The Potomac Review and Barrelhouse) of the annual conference, Conversations & Connections: Practical Advice on Getting Published , Susan speaks often at conferences on topics ranging from Arab-American literature to creative writing to pedagogy.

She has been an invited speaker at the University of Hartford, the Community College of Baltimore County, the University of Maryland, Rutgers University, the University of Baltmore, the University of Miami, Stanford University, and other institutions.

A participating author with the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program, Susan has also served as a member of the selection committee for the One Maryland One Book (OMOB) program of the Maryland Humanities Council, and she frequently serves as a judge for writing contests and as a panelist on state and national grant programs in the creative arts. In 2019, she became a participant in the #KidsNeedMentors initiative, pairing her with local schools as a visiting author.

She can be found on Twitter/Instagram at @SusanDarraj. You can also visit her Amazon Author Page and her Goodreads page.


سوزان معادي دراج

فازت مجموعة القصص القصيرة لسوزان (قصص غريبة :قصص من المنزل ) بجائزة AWP Grace Paley للقصة القصيرة ، كما فازت المجموعة عام 2016 بجائزة الكتاب العربي الامريكي وتم ترشيحها لجائزة الكتاب الفلسطيني.
نشرت ايضاً في السابق مجموعة القصص القصيرة “وراثة المنفى” عام 2007 تحت رعاية مطبعة جامعة نوتردام.
حصلت عام 2018 على زمالة فورد من قبل فنانين اميركيين. اصدرت دراج مؤخراً كتابها الثاني من سلسلة كتب الاطفال حيث تظهر فيه بطلة الرواية امريكية فلسطينية.
حازت دراج على شهرة عالمية لقيامها بانشاء مبادرة “غرد بثوبك” على تويتر والتي كانت احتفالاً بانتخاب اول امرأة فلسطينية اميركية لعضوية الكونغرس.

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This is your chance to plug into the social innovation scene in Palestine and directly connect with changemakers. 

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