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 in 2008. In 2006, she traveled in Kenya to researchThe Camel Bookmobile and to interview street kids in Nairobi and drought and famine victims in the isolated northeast.
Her works include:
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.
In 2010, she won the Women's National Book Association WNBA Award.
Masha Hamilton's website
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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 theyd 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
I first heard about the project from my daughter one autumn afternoon as I drove my three children to the Bear Canyon Library in Arizonas 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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