In a remote desert village of storytellers and seers, the accidental revelation of long-held secrets, including a forbidden love affair, unravels a young girl's world.
Staircase of a Thousand Steps lifts the veil from a mystical land, where jasmine and dung mix and the inconceivable is embraced as commonplace.
In a Middle Eastern village that traces its history back to Abraham, the men gather nightly beneath a tree named Moses' Finger, and the women meet at a place where "the earth breathes."
But the midwife Faridah possesses transcendent wisdom and a dangerous scorn for tradition. And the shepherd Harif, seer and village outsider, weaves stories in an effort to protect his fragile status. While Harif's granddaughter, Jammana, struggles between the allure of the ancient world and the tensions of a modern age.
Through an ancestral gift, Jammana experiences the memories of those closest to her - Faridah, Harif, and her mother, Rafa. But as she unwittingly uncovers the village's secrets, old grudges move like a slow burn across the fields and ignite.
Set in Transjordan just before the 1967 war with Israel, Staircase of a Thousand Steps braids a chorus of voices into a poetic, haunting tale of loyalty, longing, and accidental betrayal.
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"Hamilton is a natural storyteller: she weaves past and present artfully together, the narrative moves at a good clip and the mysticism throughout is rendered believably. Readers eager for a much different take on small-town hurts and rivalries will be intrigued by how these elements play out in this sheltered corner of the world." - Publishers Weekly
"At the novel's end, Grandfather exhorts Jammana to remember that 'Past and future are no more separate than the tree trunk from its branches.' His statement confirms much about the inevitable and often perilous clash of established customs with modern or unfamiliar ways, resulting in a tension that Hamilton movingly and beautifully expresses throughout this superior debut. Highly recommended." - Library Journal
"The prose is simple but elegant, and subtle interweaving of the mystical and the mundane makes the novel delightfully compelling." - Booklist
"Starred Review. Here, in a luminous debut, are the voices, real and rarely heard, of traditional Arab women." - Kirkus
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Masha Hamilton is a United States journalist and the author of five novels. She founded two world literacy projects and has worked as head of communications for the US Embassy in Afghanistan and the NGO Concern Worldwide US.
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...
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