Synopses & Reviews
What Changes Everything
is truly an American story on an international stage, told through an ensemble of heartening characters. In a gamble to save her kidnapped husbands life, Clarissa Barbery makes the best decisions she can in the dark nights of Brooklyn. Stela Sidorova, who owns a used bookstore in Ohio, writes letter after letter hoping to comprehend the loss of a son on an Afghan battlefield and to reconnect with the son who abandoned her when his brother died. And Mandy Wilkens, the mother of a gravely wounded soldier from Texas, travels to Kabul to heal wounds of several kinds. At the same time, What Changes Everything
is the story of two Afghans who reveal the complexity of their culture, the emotions that hold it together and those that threaten to fracture it. These lives are braided into an extraordinary novel about the grace of family.
"Conflict in Afghanistan sets the stage for this engaging narrative weave from Hamilton (31 Hours), Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy in Kabul. Tragedy strikes when Todd, the director of a humanitarian organization in Kabul, is suddenly abducted. Clarissa, his wife in Brooklyn, struggles to deal with her now-detained husband's uncertain fate and inability 'to celebrate the plain pillow that catches one's head each night.' Then there is Stela, a heartbroken Cleveland mother who has lost one son in battle and her other son to a grave misunderstanding. Keeping her bookstore to 'feel less alone,' she writes endless letters in an effort to express herself. Mandy, a mother from Texas, travels to Kabul as a hospital aid worker to better understand her own personal tragedy, for 'maybe she'd heal herself in their hospitals, by a taste of the country that had chewed up her son and then spit him back.' These tales merge with the true story of Mohammad Najibullah, late president of Afghanistan, recounted through imagined letters to his daughters. Straddling two lands while depicting the strength of human relationships even in the darkest moments, this seamless blend of fact and fiction through illuminating prose makes the story a rewarding and thought-provoking read. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Masha Hamilton
A LIBRARY JOURNAL BOOK OF THE YEAR, 2004
A great story
.Will get you thinking and break your heart.”iVillage.com
Emotionally ferocious . . . an affecting, viscerally charged work that offers no easy moral answers. A foreign correspondents façade of emotional invincibility is shattered by the death of a colleague in journalist Hamiltons sharply etched, emotionally ferocious second novel (after Staircase of a Thousand Steps).Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
The plotting is flawless. The pacing is just right ... Hamilton is an accomplished stylist
Hamilton knows the geographic beauty and the unending blood feuds of the Middle East. She knows it as a journalist (for The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times), she knows it as a resident - the sights, sounds, smells of life and death seem to fill her every pore.”San Francisco Chronicle
Powerful portrayal of religious warfare . . . The Distance Between Us dramatizes difficult issues about what draws reporters - and readers - to stories of violence. What does it cost to become the kind of person who can step over bloody ground for a quote”?”The Christian Science Monitor
Compelling tale of reprisal and endurance with a rich cast of characters. Caddie Blair is a war correspondent in the Middle East whose life is tragically changed in a single second.”
Library Journal, STARRED review
Hamilton not only captures the conflicted feelings of journalists but also the conflicted feelings of those living in the middle of the violence. All sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are presented fairly. Punchy dialogue and prose style turn this introspective look at violence and loss into a page-turner.”
In The Distance Between Us, Masha Hamiltons searing novel set amid the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Caddie is a journalist drawn to explosive violence like a moth to a flamethrower. She keeps getting singed from the heat, but it cauterizes her flayed emotions.”San Diego Union-Tribune
Hamiltons novel is a compelling look at the emotional challenges and psychological extremes of covering a war with a shifting front line, as well as a convincing story of love and self-discovery . . . A former war correspondent in the Middle East and Moscow, Hamilton writes with the passion of someone who has witnessed firsthand the religious and cultural complexities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In an era when the richness of the Middle East is so often diluted by our American sensibilities, The Distance Between Us is not only compelling and fast-paced, but timely and enlightening as well.”
Rocky Mountain News
I approached this novel, written by a veteran Middle East reporter and set in Israel during the intifada, with some trepidation, expecting yet another critique of Israel's moral stance. But Masha Hamilton's The Distance Between Us does not take sides. Her subject is grief and the desire for revenge, as experienced by a journalist whose colleague is killed.”Jerusalem Post
Extremely well written and compelling
.THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US drops us right into the battle zone and forces us to look straight at the inhumanity and simultaneously the hidden personal side
The Bloomsbury Review
Hamilton, who has worked as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Russia and Afghanistan, writes convincingly about the emotional challenges of reporting from a place rife with violence. Her terse, no-nonsense prose propels the novel like a thriller, but the undercurrent of moral tension gives it weight.”The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Praise for THE CAMEL BOOKMOBILE by Masha Hamilton
Hamilton's portrayal of nomadic culture is lovingly and colorfully told. It's a painterly glimpse into a world that few Westerners will ever see.”USA Today
Rich and evocative prose that skillfully exposes the stark realities of poverty and charity in todays Africa. Highly recommended for any fiction collection.”
Library Journal, STARRED review
A poignant, ennobling, and buoyant tale of risks and rewards, surrender and sacrifice.”
Booklist, STARRED review
Vibrates with the life and landscape of Africa
peopled with characters readers cant help but care about deeply.”BookPage
Hamilton makes us see how much is really at stake in a poverty-stricken place where every possession carries the weight of significance. A larger conflict wouldnt do justice to the notion of honor as lived by these people; it extends all the way down to the smallest stack of books.”New York Times
This captivating story about a determined chick with a big heart will touch you deeply.”
Praise for 31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton
A WASHINGTON POST BEST MYSTERY/THRILLER OF 2009
Hamilton has used both her considerable empathy as a writer and her experience in the Middle East to create an intimate portrait of 21-year-old Jonas Meitzner. It's not easy to like him for what he intends to do, much less admire him, but Hamilton makes us aware of his humanity
Sensitive, lonely and full of the anger and doubt many young people feel, Jonas seems in Hamilton's hands not a stranger, not an impenetrable figure of dread whose behavior is beyond our understanding, but the ordinary, fragile child of ordinary, fragile people. You don't exactly want to look at the story of what happens to Jonas, but Hamilton has made it very hard to tear your gaze away.”The Washington Post
. a potent psychological analysis on the true meaning of loyalty -- to friends, family members and country -- and what any of us, given the chance, would to do to uphold it.”The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
keeps us engaged most with the desire to answer the standard thriller question: Can the killer be stopped?...Hamilton arrays her characters smartly, then points them toward the subway
Women, in particular, will inhale this book.”Cleveland Plain Dealer
One of the best novels Ive read this year.”Carol Fitzgerald, founder, BookReporter.com
"How much can we ever know the ones we truly love? So asks Masha Hamilton in her riveting new novel, 31 HOURS. It kept me up all night, and left me in tears."
Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Sleep Toward Heaven, Love Stories In This Town
You dont just read this gut-wrenching book; you become part of it in a deep, primal way. Hamiltons story is so real and so raw, it takes over your thoughts and feelings and never lets go. We need to start a global book club and make this its first selection.”
Lois Alter Mark, StyleSubstanceSoul.com
"Masha Hamilton uncovers the complex humanity behind the horror of terrorism. Read it for the exquisite craft, but also for the entry into a world thats often splashed in the headlines, but seldom so brilliantly revealed."Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble and Coming Back to Me
Equal parts thriller and poetry, Masha Hamiltons 31 Hours had me turning pages late into the night and thinking about its startling conclusion long after Id read the last page. In compelling readers to reconsider how we think about terrorism, this beautiful novel will provoke understanding, and perhaps even inspire us toward much-needed change.”Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
About the Author
is the author of four acclaimed novels, most recently 31 Hours, which The Washington Post called one of the best novels of 2009, and independent bookstores named an Indie Next choice. She also founded two world literacy projects, the Camel Book Drive and the Afghan Women's Writing Project.
She is the winner of the 2010 Women's National Book Association award, presented "to a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and allied arts, and who has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation."
She began her career as a full-time journalist, working in Maine, Indiana, and New York City before being sent by the Associated Press to the Middle East where she was news editor for five years, including the period of the first intefadeh. She then moved to Moscow where she worked for five years during the collapse of Communism, reporting for the Los Angeles Times and NBC-Mutual Radio and writing a monthly column, "Postcards from Moscow." She also reported from Kenya in 2006, and from Afghanistan in 2004 and 2008.
A Brown University graduate, Hamilton has been awarded fiction fellowships from Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She has taught for Gotham Writers Workshop and the 92nd Street Y in New York City and at a number of writers' workshops around the country. She has also taught in Afghanistan at Kabul University.
Masha Hamilton is the Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.