2020 fiction judges
Sumbul Ali-Karamali earned her B.A. in English from Stanford University, her J.D. from the University of California at Davis, and her L.L.M. in Islamic law from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. She has practiced corporate law, taught Islamic law, and been a research associate at the Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law in London. Her first book, The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, was published in 2008 and was a Bronze Medal Winner of the 2009 Independent Book Awards; it was also chosen for Silicon Valley Reads 2012, a 14-citywide reading program. The Muslim Next Door also appeared on the American Academy of Religion’s Islam section list as a recommended text for teaching Islam in classrooms and the Huffington Post’s Eleven Must-Read Books by Muslim Authors. Her fourthcoming book, Demystifying Shari'ah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It's Not Taking Over Our Country, will be available in the spring 2020.
Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of The Portable Veblen, long listed for the 2016 National Book Award for fiction, winner of the California Book Award, and finalist for the Baileys Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. Her collection, Stop That Girl, was short-listed for The Story Prize, and her novel MacGregor Tells the World was a Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal Best Book of the year. McKenzie received her MA from Stanford in English and Creative Writing and is the senior editor of the Chicago Quarterly Review and the managing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader.
Patrick Hunt earned his Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, University of London in 1991, and is in his 28th year of teaching at Stanford. He directed the Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project (1994-2011), and his research has been sponsored by the National Geographic Society' s Expedition Council (2007-2008). He is also a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America and is on a national committee of that organization as well as an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (since 1989). He has authored 21 published books, including the best-sellers Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History and Hannibal, 100+ published articles, and often appears as a scholar on PBS, National Geographic, NOVA, as well as consulting for BBC and other documentary productions.
2020 nonfiction judges
Mark Arax is the author of The Dreamt Land, West of the West, In My Father's Name, and co-author of The King of California. He is a contributing writer at Los Angeles Magazine and a former senior writer at the Los Angeles Times. He teaches nonfiction writing at Claremont McKenna College and lives in Fresno. A top graduate of Fresno State and Columbia University, Mark left the Los Angeles Times in 2007 after a public fight over censorship of his story on the Armenian Genocide. He has taught literary non fiction at Claremont McKenna College and Fresno State University and served as a senior policy director for the California Senate Majority Leader. Arax and his co-author won the 2005 Saroyan Prize for The King of California.
Lori Jakiela is the author of the memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe (Atticus Books), which received the 2016 William Saroyan Internatinal Prize for Literature from Stanford University, was a finalist for the Council of Literary Magazine and Small Presses Firecracker Award and the Housatonic Literary Award, and named one of 20 Not-to-Miss Books of Nonfiction of 2015 by The Huffington Post. Jakiela is the author of an essay collection, Portrait of the Artist as a Bingo Worker (Bottom Dog Press), as well as two other memoirs -- Miss New York Has Everything (Hatchette) and The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious (C&R Press). She is also the author of the poetry collection Spot the Terrorist (Turning Point) and several limited-edition poetry chapbooks. Her latest poetry chapbook, Big Fish, was published by Stranded Oak Press in 2016. A former flight attendant and journalist, she now directs the undergraduate writing program at The University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, where she is Professor of English and Creative/Professional Writing. She is a co-director of Chautauqua Institution's Summer Writers Festival, teaches community writing workshops at a yoga studio in her hometown of Trafford, Pa., and curates the Saturday Poem feature at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Hank Saroyan's thirty-five year career in entertainment has run the gamut from performing, to writing, producing, directing, and composing for television and features. He is one of few directors with Emmy Awards for directing in live-action (William Saroyan's The Parsley Garden) and animation (Jim Henson's Muppet Babies.)
Between projects, Hank can be found on stage performing "A Tribute to William Saroyan--In His Own Words," accompanied by renowned jazz and classical musicians such as cellist, Eugene Friesen, pianist, Philip Aaberg and others. Kevin Starr, friend of William Saroyan and Professor of History at University of Southern California, wrote:
"There is music in the prose of William Saroyan and his nephew Hank Saroyan and his colleagues are now releasing that music with new intensity through a magic amalgam of musical artistry and the spoken word. William Saroyan now speaks to us, once again, with the full force of his living presence.