Masha Hamilton is a poet. She brings the desert to life; its sounds of bracelets jingling and sheep baying, its heat, its many secrets. She creates characters you can put your arms around. Staircase of a Thousand Steps is the translation of an entire culture. Its pages smell of jasmine and freshly baked bread. It transports you to a warm, earthen rooftop amidst a gentle evening breeze. It is here that it asks you this question: Are you living your own life, or do fear and expectations enslave you? Do you even know?
–THE BOULDER WEEKLY (Lynn T. Theodose )
Masha Hamilton writes with flowing ease and rippling words that are hard to turn away from. She lived in the area for many years and seems to have a marvelous insight into the minds and hearts of the Palestinians, especially their women.
–THE SEATTLE PRESS
Beautifully written first novel ... her experience comes through in the book's details. Steam rises off dirt floors made shiny with sheep's blood, helicopters growl overhead, the scent of dung mixes with that of jasmine ... Faridah's fate and that of the village unfold in elegant language as Hamilton compellingly writes about love and betrayal.
–THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Each scene is meticulously described in sensual terms. The taste of bread cooked with sweet basil, the oily smell of a plant you cannot wash off, the feel of the air in a room seeming to vibrate, and the sound of rain drumming a hopeless, warning melody awaken all the senses.
–THE TUSCON PRESS
Focusing on themes of love, betrayal, friendship and duty, Hamilton shows how each generation's decisions create a web that ensnares the next. The prose is simple but elegant, and subtle interweaving of the mystical and the mundane makes the novel delightfully compelling.
Hamilton is a graceful writer and terrific storyteller. The parched desert life Hamilton describes, complete with cowboy bandannas, strong coffee, dust devils and a colorful collision of tan and ochre in the desert heat–"no other colors could survive"–will make Hamilton's Middle East seem as familiar as our own Southwestern deserts. Staircase of a Thousand Steps is a thoroughly absorbing novel.
–THE ARIZONA DAILY SUN
The rich diversity of characters and the poetic use of language add freshness to an ageless tale of human betrayal and small town pettiness. (The) author reminds me of Naguib Mahfouz, in her ability to capture the dichotomy between the mystical and superstitious with the hard, practical realism of desert life.
–THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS (Joan Hinkemeyer )
Set in '60s Jordan, Hamilton has hit on two universal truths: That children never believe they will be as old as their elders, and that the way our relatives are in our youth is how we will always remember them. She captures the myths of a culture in dramatic style. Wonderful!
–BOOKSENSE REVIEW (Laura Hansen, Bookin' It, Little Falls, MN)
Hamilton drew upon her experiences as an AP correspondent in the Middle East to write a first novel that reveals in fascinating depth a desert culture in Jordan just before the 1967 war with Israel.
–KLIATT (Maureen K. Griffin)
In 1966, eleven year old Jammana struggles with her ability to see the memories of the past, as seen through the eyes of others. Currently, she accompanies her mother Rafa on a visit to the latter's hometown of Ein Fadr where the same families can trace their roots to Abraham and Allah's strict rules.
–HARRIET KLAUSNER REVIEW
I initially thought this was going to be another of those trendy, Middle–Eastern, henna–and–bindhi novels, clinging like a parasitic vine to the fashionable ethnicity of the moment for sustenance. But in actuality, Staircase of a Thousand Steps stands up on its own merits, with a cast of characters caught between two worlds: the tiny, timeless village of the past, with its centuries of heaped–up secrets, and the shiny, modern world of America, splitting families with the seductive promise of wealth and prosperity. Suspenseful and vividly written, Staircase of a Thousand Steps is one book that actually lives up to its cover.
Staircase Of A Thousand Steps is an artfully crafted story told through varied perspectives that give it a satisfying layered effect. The plot is unpredictable and moves at a quick pace. The most enjoyable element is its timeless fable–like quality. Hamilton, in interviews, has said she chose to write a nonpolitical book is a political region of the world because she wanted characters "as timeless as water, playing out their stories largely apart from the obscuring fog of politics." She has succeeded: the characters and setting are enduring, and their stories are compelling and passionate.
–LITERARY SOCIETY OF SAN DIEGO
Come along on a magical mystery tour, courtesy of Masha Hamilton! This first novel, set in the Jordanian desert circa the mid-1960s, is rendered so authentically it had us shaking the sand out of our shoes.
–BARNES & NOBLE: DISCOVER GREAT WRITERS
Former AP Middle East correspondent Hamilton writes with striking clarity, using words as carefully as the Bedouin use water to bring a disappearing world to vibrant life. Here, in a luminous debut, are the voices, real and rarely heard, of traditional Arab women.
Young Jammana, a principal character of Hamilton's eloquent first novel, possesses a familial gift that enables her to experience others' memories. Her grandfather displays an equally intuitive gift, allowing him to glimpse the future. Because of the mixed blessings their ancestral aptitude begets, they are, along with two others, outsiders in their fictional village.