Evelyn Catherine Shakir grew up in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. She is the daughter of Hannah and Wadie Shakir who were first generation Lebanese Americans, and her community was largely comprised of Lebanese immigrants. She held a special fondness for those that shared her family’s culture. She had a passion for writing and received a master’s from Harvard and a doctorate from Boston University.
In the 1970s, Dr. Shakir began collecting and telling the stories of the Lebanese women in her community. She published these collected stories in 1997 with Bint Arab and in 2007 with Remember Me to Lebanon, giving a voice to Arab American women.
Dr. Shakir taught writing at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., where she was a professor emerita. She also taught at Northeastern and Tufts universities, as well as in the Middle East at the University of Bahrain and the University of Damascus.
- Remember Me to Lebanon: Stories of Lebanese Women in America (Syracuse University Press, 2007) - In this work, Shakir crafts tales that are rich in history and cultural detail, setting her stories in different eras, from the 1960s to the present and carrying us back, on occasion, to the turn of the twentieth century. The book won the 2008 Arab American Book Award's Fiction category.
- Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American Women in the United States (Praeger, 1997) - Drawing on primary sources such as club minutes, census records, and dozens of interviews, Shakir explores the experience of late 19th- and early 20th-century immigrants—mostly Christian peasants from Lebanon and Syria—and their American-born daughters. Later, she moves on to the well-assimilated granddaughters (many of whom have reidentified with the Arab community and begun to fight its political battles). The work concludes with those women—most of them Muslim—who have emigrated over the last quarter century from many Arab countries, particularly Palestinians.