A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius author Dave Eggers will be presented the 2009 "Courage in Media" award at the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' 13th annual banquet Saturday at the Anaheim Hilton.
Anaheim-based CAIR-LA is honoring the Pulitzer Prize nominee for his latest novel Zeitoun, which is about a Muslim American man who volunteers to help rescue victims of Hurricane Katrina but is mistaken for a terrorist, detained by FEMA and subjected to a series of humiliations and detention at the hands of his own government.
"Dave Eggers has made accessible a powerful story about the joys and tribulations of being an American Muslim in the wake of the Bush administration's misguided policies in the War on Terror," Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-LA, says in a statement from the Muslim rights and advocacy organization. "His work deserves recognition and thanks from American Muslims."
The Bay Area resident, who founded the independent publishing house/quarterly literary journal McSweeney's, was a Pulitzer finalist in 2001 for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. He's been in the pop-culture consciousness most recently for being the co-screenwriter of the popular film adaption of Maurice Sendak's classic 1963 children's book Where the Wild Things Are.
Atif Moon, 24, of Rancho Palos Verde, is set to receive the 2009 "Excellence in Leadership" award. Born with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the spinal cord, and paralyzed from waist down, Moon lives a full life, having co-founded the Center for Global Understanding, an organization that encourages Muslim American youth to participate in the civic process. He is also pursuing a master's degree in sports management in spring 2010.
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About 2,000 guests are expected to turn out for Saturday's banquet, which will feature a keynote address from Sherman Jackson, professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies and visiting professor of law at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Larry Shaw, a North Carolina state senator and CAIR national board chairman, and Shaikh Alauddin El-Bakri, imam of Saratoga mosque and co-founder of Inner City Muslim Action Network, are also scheduled to speak. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton, 777 Convention Way, Anaheim.