Masha Hamilton biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Masha Hamilton.

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Masha Hamilton

Masha Hamilton

Masha Hamilton Biography

Masha Hamilton is the author of four acclaimed novels, most recently 31 Hours (2009), a Washington Post selection for one of the best novels of the year and an Indie Choice pick by independent booksellers. The Post wrote: "Hamilton has used both her considerable empathy as a writer and her experience in the Middle East to create an intimate portrait ... (She's) made it very hard to tear your gaze away." Publisher's Weekly called it "gorgeous and complex." Hamilton is also the founder of two world literacy programs: the Camel Book Drive, begun in 2007 to supply a camel-borne library in northeastern Kenya, and the Afghan Women's Writing Project, begun in 2009 to foster creative and intellectual exchange between Afghan women writers and American women authors and teachers.

Her previous novels include Staircase of a Thousand Steps (2001), a Booksense pick by independent booksellers and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection; The Distance Between Us (2004), named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal; and The Camel Bookmobile (2007), also a Booksense pick. Booksense called it an excellent book club selection, and the New York Times said: "Hamilton makes us see how much is really at stake in a poverty-stricken place where every possession carries the weight of significance."

She worked as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press for five years in the Middle East, where she covered the intefadeh, the peace process and the partial Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Then she spent five years in Moscow, where she was a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a newspaper column, Postcard from Moscow, and reported for NBC/Mutual Radio. She wrote about Kremlin politics as well as life for average Russians under Gorbachev and Yeltsin during the coup and collapse of the Soviet Union. She reported from Afghanistan in 2004, and returned in 2008. In 2006, she traveled in Kenya to research The Camel Bookmobile and to interview street kids in Nairobi and drought and famine victims in the isolated northeast.

A Brown University graduate, she has been awarded fiction fellowships from Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She teaches for Gotham Writers' Workshop and has also taught at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and at a number of writers' workshops around the country. She is a licensed shiatsu practitioner and lives with her family in Brooklyn.

Link to Masha's website

This biography was last updated on 09/27/2010.

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Interview

Masha Hamilton describes the inspiration for her 2007 novel, The Camel Bookmobile

The Camel Bookmobile made its first run almost a decade ago. Three dromedaries trudged through dusty, arid northeastern Kenya near the border with Somalia to bring a library to settlements so tiny and far-flung they’d become nearly invisible; places lacking roads and schools, where most people had never held a book between their hands and where they lived daily with drought, hunger and disease.

I first heard about the project from my daughter one autumn afternoon as I drove my three children to the Bear Canyon Library in Arizona’s Tanque Verde valley. One detail in particular piqued my interest. Because books were rare and precious in the reaches of Africa far from the safari vacationers, the camel-powered library initiated a severe fine. If even one person lost a book, the bookmobile would boycott that entire village, choosing another to visit instead.

The fine was intended both to protect books so literacy could spread, and to encourage a wandering people to adopt the practices of a more settled world. But reality, as always, would be more complex than theory, I knew.

As I listened, the entire arc ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Masha Hamilton at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

The Camel Bookmobile
The Camel Bookmobile

by Masha Hamilton

The Camel Bookmobile follows an American librarian who travels to the arid bush of northeastern Kenya to give meaning to her life, but ultimately loses a piece of her heart. A compelling novel that shows how one life can change many, in spite of dangerous and seemingly immutable obstacles.
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Masha Hamilton but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Mischa Berlinski

    Mischa Berlinski

    Mischa Berlinski was born in New York in 1973. He studied classics at the University of California at Berkeley and at Columbia University. He has worked as a journalist in Thailand. He lives in Rome. (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Camel Bookmobile

    Try:
    Fieldwork
    by Mischa Berlinski

  • John Colman Wood

    John Colman Wood

    John Colman Wood teaches at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. His field research with Gabra nomads of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Geographic ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Camel Bookmobile

    Try:
    The Names of Things
    by John Colman Wood

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