Press Release: “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky” by Jennifer Steil

THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY

An American Journalist in Yemen 

By JENNIFER STEIL   

“From the first page of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, Jennifer Steil comes across as a person blessed with sensibility and sensitivity in equal measure. She is the kind of woman who’s not fearful of culture shock, danger, or the trials and tribulations of life in what is the Arab World’s rawest land. Her writing is an absolute delight — no nonsense, clear, funny, and sometimes alarming, as she threads her way through the ins and outs of Yemeni life. Steil has achieved far more than a simple description of a stint working at a newspaper in Sana’a. Rather, her book shines a vibrant light on the region, showing it how it is, with astonishing clarity from the inside out.”
—Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph’s House and In Arabian Nights

“Steil puts humanity and color into her description of a country most Americans know only as a desert haven for terrorists. Her affection for Yemen and its people will make readers want to see it for themselves. A lovely book that offers a large measure of cultural understanding in a region that is too easily misunderstood and caricatured.”

—Nina Burleigh, author of Unholy Business

 “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky is that rare animal: a memoir which reads like a novel. From the exquisite detail to the passionate, poignant, and often hilarious story of one powerful woman immersed in centuries of patriarchal tradition, Steil takes us on a journey that left me exhausted and exhilarated. Hugely entertaining and vitally important to our times, the book tucks us under a veil and allows us a unique glimpse into a culture as old as Noah. Not only did I remember what it feels and smells like to live imbedded in the Arab world, I also relearned my craft of journalism along with Steil’s students in her dusty classroom halfway around the world. Veils and hats off to this winner!”

—Jennifer Jordan, author of Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Five Women of K2

 “With intelligence, humor, and courage, Jennifer Steil’s book helps us see beyond stereotypes of male and female, East and West, conservative and liberal to appreciate the beauty and wonder of deeply rooted cultures–and the authentic relationships that can transcend them all.”

—Susan Piver, author of How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life and The Wisdom of a Broken Heart

 “Jennifer Steil’s voice recalls that of Isak Dinesen and Freya Stark: generous and observant, unabashed in her love for her home in exile, yet unafraid to speak her mind about injustice, and everything laced with wit and rich detail. This is an important book about a corner of the world we cannot afford to misunderstand, and Jennifer Steil is the perfect person to guide us.”

—Tom Zoellner, author of The Heartless Stone and Uranium

 

Restless in her career and her life in general, Jennifer Steil, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity to teach a journalism class to the staff of the Yemen Observer in Sana’a, the beautiful, old, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the enticing prospect of spreading democratic journalistic ideals there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper’s editor in chief.

But she is quickly confronted with the conservative realities of Yemen—and their surprising advantages. She discovers unexpected benefits in the concealment behind the clothing she wears. In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that includes plagiarists and polemicists, she falls in love with her career again. In confronting the blatant mistreatment and strict governance of women by their male counterparts, she learns to appreciate the strength of Arab women in the workplace; and in forging surprisingly deep friendships with women and men whose traditions and beliefs are in total opposition to her own, she learns a cultural appreciation she never could have predicted.

In her forthcoming memoir THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY: An American Journalist in Yemen (Broadway Books; On Sale: May 11, 2010; Hardcover; $26.00), Jennifer gives readers a fresh, in-depth, and often surprising look at the Arab mindset and the role of the media in the Muslim culture. She takes readers into the seldom-seen everyday life in a conservative Muslim country and illuminates the challenges of living in such a place as a Westerner and as a woman. With infectious exuberance and bravery, Jennifer brings to life the wonder, mystery, humor, and beauty of living in an utterly foreign world.

What’s more, as time passes, Jennifer realizes that she does not want to go back to her ordinary life. Just as she is about to leave for a new job coaching reporters in Sierra Leone, she finds unexpected love in Yemen. She has lived in Yemen ever since.

THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY will encourage women to follow an adventurous path because you simply never know where you will find happily ever after.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Steil spent a year as editor of the Yemen Observer, a twice-weekly English-language newspaper published in Sana’a, Yemen. Before moving to Yemen in 2006, Steil was a senior editor at The Week, which she helped to launch in 2001. She has also worked as an editor at Playgirl magazine and at Folio. Her work has appeared in Time, Life, Good Housekeeping, and Woman’s Day. Steil has an MS in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Sana’a, Yemen, with her fiancé, Tim Torlot, the British ambassador to Yemen, and their daughter, Theadora Celeste.

THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY

An American Journalist in Yemen

By Jennifer Steil   

Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,

a division of Random House, Inc.

Hardcover; $26.00; 336 pages; ISBN 978-0-7679-3050-5

www.crownpublishing.com

www.broadwaybooks.com

 

For more information about THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY or to schedule an interview with Jennifer Steil, please contact Rachel Rokicki at 212-782-8455 or rrokicki@randomhouse.com.

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