Today Associate Professor Joseph Massad‘s Desiring Arabs has been awarded the 2008 Lionel Trilling Award, according an email sent to the MEALAC listserv. The award is given each year to honor the book authored by a Columbia faculty member “that is deemed to best exhibit the standards of intellect and scholarship found in Lionel Trilling’s work,” the prize’s website says.

Desiring Arabs is an intellectual history of the last 200 years of the Arabic world that focuses on Arab sexuality and Western interpretations of Arab sexuality. Massad—as well as the book itself—has been the at the center of much heated Middle Eastern controversy over the last four years. Massad was also one of the subjects criticized by the David Project-funded documentary Columbia Unbecoming.

Winners of the Trilling Award—as well as the Mark Van Doren Award—are selected by the Columbia College Student Council and the Academic Awards Committee. A Bwog tipster with a friend involved in the latter explains that AACers have been told to remain mum, so other than the fluke MEALAC email, there have been no announcements about the winner.

According to the Columbia College website, the awards ceremony will be held on May 8th (although half the dates on the website say “2007” and the others say “2008”, this year, May 8th is on a Thursday.)