Feb 28, 2008

Staircase of a Thousand Steps

by Masha Hamilton

This poignant, insightful story is set in a small, ancient village near Jordan called Ein Fadr. Young Jammana goes there for one last visit to her mother's birthplace, before leaving to America. In Ein Fadr, people live the same way they have for centuries. Jammana is troubled by the conflict between the traditional Arabic lifestyle in Ein Fadr and the modern world she is headed for in America. She has an unsettling gift of experiencing other people's memories in her dreams. She wants to find answers about the past from a midwife in the village who delivered her mother. In her quest for truth, Jammana begins to uncover buried secrets and dig up painful memories between villagers. Woven throughout this story of ancient culture, women's power and one girl's coming of age in troubled times, is an unsanctioned love affair. The ending is tragic, but in ways you might not expect. Although the storyline can get confusing (having numerous characters who lack proper introduction, for one thing) Staircase of a Thousand Steps is full of powerful language, vivid imagery and raw, touching moments. It definitely caught my attention.

Rating: 3/5                228 pages, 2002


  1. This sounds quite intriguing, Jeane. I haven't heard of it, but I'll have to look for it. I'll try and be prepared for its weak spots--lack of proper introduction to characters can be annoying.

  2. Another one for the TBR!

  3. Sounds very interesting--I've been trying to stretch myself in terms of reading about different cultures (although is the author writing about her culture?)--and this one seems to fit the bill.

  4. I just read her bio online to find out. She spent five years doing journalistic correspondence in the Middle East. I read a remark in another review somewhere that she did an excellent job writing about Palestinian culture, it not being her own.

  5. Jeane - thanks for the information! I'll put it on my list of books to check out.


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