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Masha Hamilton biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Masha Hamilton

Masha Hamilton

Masha Hamilton Biography

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: Postcard from Moscow (newspaper column), Staircase of a Thousand Steps (2001), The Distance Between Us (2004), The Camel Bookmobile (2007), 31 Hours (2009) and What Changes Everything (2013).

31 Hours was a Washington Post selection for one of the best novels of the year and an Indie Choice pick by independent booksellers.

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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Interview

In two separate essays Masha Hamilton discusses the inspiration behind her novel, The Camel Bookmobile (2007); and the necessity for journalists to suppress their emotions in order to objectively cover a conflict - a subject she explores in The Distance Between Us (2004).

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 of a story came to me in one gulp. I imagined an American librarian who travels to ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Masha Hamilton at BookBrowse
31 Hours jacket The Camel Bookmobile jacket The Distance Between Us jacket Staircase of a Thousand Steps jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes 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 read-alikes

  • Mischa Berlinski

    Mischa Berlinski

    Fieldwork is Mischa's first novel, it won him a $50,000 Whiting Award in 2008. Peacekeeping: A Novel was published in 2016.

    Mischa Berlinski was born in New York in 1973. He studied classics at the University of California... (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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