The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Woman's Adventures in the Oldest City on Earth

3.66 avg rating
( 918 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780767930512: The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Woman's Adventures in the Oldest City on Earth
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

 
 
"I had no idea how to find my way around this medieval city. It was getting dark. I was tired. I didn’t speak Arabic. I was a little frightened. But hadn’t I battled scorpions in the wilds of Costa Rica and prevailed? Hadn’t I survived fainting in a San José brothel?  Hadn’t I once arrived in Ireland with only $10 in my pocket and made it last two weeks? Surely I could handle a walk through an unfamiliar town. So I took a breath, tightened the black scarf around my hair, and headed out to take my first solitary steps through Sana’a."-- from The Woman Who Fell From The Sky
 
In a world fraught with suspicion between the Middle East and the West, it's hard to believe that one of the most influential newspapers in Yemen--the desperately poor, ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, which has made has made international headlines for being a terrorist breeding ground--would be handed over to an agnostic, Campari-drinking, single woman from Manhattan who had never set foot in the Middle East. Yet this is exactly what happened to journalist, Jennifer Steil.
 
Restless in her career and her life, Jennifer, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the staff of The Yemen Observer in Sana'a, the beautiful, ancient, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the challenging prospect of teaching a free speech model of journalism there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper's editor-in-chief. But she is quickly confronted with the realities of Yemen--and their surprising advantages.  In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that included 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.  What’s more, she just so happens to meet the love of her life.
 
With exuberance and bravery, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky offers a rare, intimate, and often surprising look at the role of the media in Muslim culture and a fascinating cultural tour of Yemen, one of the most enigmatic countries in the world.
From the Hardcover edition.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Tahir Shah Reviews The Woman Who Fell from the Sky

Tahir Shah is the author of The Caliph's House and In Arabian Nights. Read his review of The Woman Who Fell from the Sky:

Just about everyone I meet is writing a book.

At parties and dinners they usually trap me in a corner between a potted plant and a wall, and they harangue me about a their masterwork. As a published author they expect I’ll be able to smooth the way up the long hard slope to Print-hood and success.

Most of the time I tell Would-be-writer dinner guests that they're fabulous, and that they're assured easy success, because of their rare and blatant talent. I tell them that because most people only want attention and, when they've been given it, they move on to someone else.

Sometimes, at the end of a long evening of being savaged by Would-be-writers, I lash out and hint at the truth–-that the first 100,000 words that most people knock out ought to be chucked in the trash right away. It’s the dirty water that comes through pipes that have never been used.

But once in a while you come across an author who hits the mark first off in the most lively, and enlivening way.

Jennifer Steil is one such writer.

It's clear to me from the first line of her sleek, intelligent and charming book, that she has done her time in that gymnasium of authorship, the newspaper world. There is nothing like it to build the craft, although the majority of writers these days seem to shun it like the plague.

As a result, Jennifer doesn't waste words. And, more importantly, she knows how to use them, like a mason selecting the right rock for a spot in a dry stone wall.

It would be enough for this first book to be a delight, which it is, but it captures something far deeper and far more poignant. Through it, she has reached the hallowed ground of the most successful travel writers. By this, I mean that she has triumphed in showing a place, revealing the sensibilities of a people and events, through anecdotes rather than direct description. It's something which most writers fail miserably at, but a one that has the ability to depict a society in the most enticing way-–from the inside out.

I won't waste space here detailing the ins and outs of Jennifer's story in Yemen, because I coax anyone with an interest in the East-West dynamic to read her prose for themselves. But I will preface the book by saying that it is an extraordinary achievement: both eloquent and elegant, hilarious in parts but, most of all, sensible to a society so differing from her own.

Questions for Jennifer Steil

Q: How does writing a memoir compare to writing news stories?
A: Writing a memoir is in many ways much easier than writing news stories. News stories require such intensive reporting and running around, and then must be written on very tight deadlines. I had a year to write this book, and nearly another year to edit it, which felt very leisurely to me! Of course the book required research as well, but much of it was based on the daily journals I kept during my first year in Yemen.

Writing a memoir is also a much lonelier business than writing news stories. When I am working as a reporter, I am constantly talking with people, either interview subjects or colleagues. Writing a book required long solitary hours in my office, and I found myself longing for someone to talk to at the water cooler!

Of course, there are also huge differences in structure. I found myself struggling with the structure of the book, whereas I can fairly easily structure news stories. I figured out the structure the book as I went along--with lots of help from my editors!

There are also some commonalities between book writing and news writing. Both memoirs and journalism require scrupulous reporting of facts. I always try to be as honest and fair as possible. A memoir, however, includes plenty of my own opinions and feelings, which news writing excludes.

Q: At one point, you were surprised to find yourself sounding patriotic as you explained American constitutional rights to Farouq. How did being an expatriate affect your sense of what it means to be an American?
A: I feel that living abroad has deepened my affection for America, while also making me more critical of certain aspects of American culture. When I left the U.S., I was furious at our government and the country in general. A dedicated Democrat, I was bitter about the last two elections and outraged by pretty much everything George W. Bush ever did. I was embarrassed to be American and pessimistic about the future of the country.

Living in Yemen did not improve my view of the Bush administration, but it did make me grateful for the many privileges of life in the US. All the things I took for granted--drinkable tap water, free speech, freedom to dress however I wanted, a variety of healthy food available everywhere, dental care, good hospitals, decent education, diversity--became more precious to me. I felt proud that I came from a country where I could rant about whatever I wanted without fear of the government tossing me into jail.

I used to complain about sexism in America, which does still exist. But it is nothing compared to what women are subjected to in Yemen--and in so many other places. I feel so lucky that by the sheer accident of my birth I grew up in a country where I have had the freedom to go to school, be critical of religion, make friends with men and women, and choose a career for myself. I appreciate the fact that in the U.S. I feel that I am seen as a person with an intellect and rights, rather than as property.

That said, one thing I liked about leaving America was shedding so many THINGS. I gave away or threw out most of my possessions (aside from books and notebooks, which I stored in my parents' barn) and it was really freeing to realize that I could easily live for a year with just two suitcases worth of clothes and other things. So much about life in the U.S. seems excessive from here. I mean, do we really need 97 flavors of chewing gum and 53 flavors of iced tea? I would go to stores and just get overwhelmed by the choices.

I have become more critical of the frivolity of American life. It's hard to get worked up about my own small problems when Yemenis are worried about the most basic things: access to water, access to schools, starvation, sickness, and war.

Q: Despite the hardships, you truly fell in love with Yemen. What was the turning point?
A: There were many little turning points--meeting and having tea with my neighbors in Old Sana'a, finally finding time to eat lunch outside of the office (it made such a difference to get away for an hour!), figuring out how to do all of my shopping and errands in Arabic, and taking time to get out of Sana'a and explore more of this gorgeous country. I am glad I came here alone, because I got such a huge sense of accomplishment from finding my own way and becoming self-sufficient in this strange land.

Perhaps my biggest turning point came as a result of getting the newspaper on a regular schedule. Once I had achieved this Herculean feat, I was finally able to spend more time with my reporters individually. I could give them the training and attention they needed. I could also spend some time with them outside of the office. This made my job suddenly much more enjoyable. I loved spending time with my staff. They are the reason I came to Yemen, and the absolute best part of my first year here was watching their progress and forming relationships with them.

Once we were on a regular schedule, I also had more time to explore Yemen and meet people outside of work.

Q: How do you hope the book will affect readers? What stereotypes would you like to overturn?
A: So many westerners I meet in the U.S. and England have not even heard of Yemen. If they have, they only know it as a hotbed of terrorism, which is how it's generally described in the news. News coverage of Yemen is extremely skewed--western papers rarely write about the country unless embassies are being attacked or tourists are getting blown up.

What you hardly ever read about is the amazing hospitality and generosity of the Yemeni people. The overwhelming majority of people I have met in Yemen have been kind, open-hearted, and curious about westerners. Yemenis will invite you home to lunch five minutes after meeting you. And if you go once, they will invite you back for lunch every week. This kind of immediate and sincere hospitality is not often found in the west.

I hope my book helps eliminate the stereotype that all Yemenis are crazed terrorists. I want people to come away with the understanding that Yemen has a diverse population, and the majority are peaceful people.

Q: Most books about Yemen have been written by men. What's different about your perspective as a woman--a western woman at that?
A: Western men have pretty much zero access to women in Yemen (and Yemeni men don’t have much more!). Therefore, the books written about Yemen by men are missing half of the story--the women's story. At least one male writer I've read admits he knows nothing of the world of Yemeni women, but adds that it is his understanding that Yemeni women may have little influence on political and public life, but that they rule the home. I did not find this to be true--certainly not for most of the women I have met here. The women I know have to obey the men in their family in every sphere--they are not free to go to school, fall in love, stay out after dark, work, go out, make friends with men, etc. without permission from men.

Because I am a westerner, I am sure there is still plenty I do not know about Yemen and Yemeni women in particular. While I've become close to many women who have confided in me, I am still ultimately an outsider. Yet some women confide in me because I am an outsider--they tell me things they are afraid of telling other Yemeni women, for fear of being judged.

Q: What is your next challenge as a writer and editor?
A: I would really like to write a novel. I've written one before, but I am not sure it should ever be published! So I'd like to start again. I think it would be fun to write something completely untrue for a change. Though it is tempting to write something about diplomatic life...

Photographs from The Woman Who Fell from the Sky
Jennifer Steil with Rocky the Kitten Mountains in Haraz Jennifer and Faris

Jennifer, Tim, and Their Bodyguards Yemeni Minaret A Staff Meeting


About the Author:

Before moving to Yemen in 2006, Jennifer Steil was a senior editor at The Week, which she helped to launch in 2001. Her work has appeared in Time, Life, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Sana'a, Yemen, with her fiancé, Tim Torlot, the British Ambassador to Yemen and their daughter Theadora Celeste.
From the Hardcover edition.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Steil, Jennifer
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Big River Books
(Powder Springs, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # 1EY7SO002HR5

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 1.00
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.49
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Steil, Jennifer
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2011. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # VR-9780767930512

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.71
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

STEIL, JENNIFER
Published by Penguin Random House
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Random House. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 0767930517

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.72
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.60
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Steil, Jennifer
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2011. PAP. Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # IB-9780767930512

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.92
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Jennifer Steil
Published by Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc), United States (2011)
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc), United States, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. I had no idea how to find my way around this medieval city. It was getting dark. I was tired. I didn t speak Arabic. I was a little frightened. But hadn t I battled scorpions in the wilds of Costa Rica and prevailed? Hadn t I survived fainting in a San Jose brothel? Hadn t I once arrived in Ireland with only $10 in my pocket and made it last two weeks? Surely I could handle a walk through an unfamiliar town. So I took a breath, tightened the black scarf around my hair, and headed out to take my first solitary steps through Sana a. -- from The Woman Who Fell From The Sky In a world fraught with suspicion between the Middle East and the West, it s hard to believe that one of the most influential newspapers in Yemen--the desperately poor, ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, which has made has made international headlines for being a terrorist breeding ground--would be handed over to an agnostic, Campari-drinking, single woman from Manhattan who had never set foot in the Middle East. Yet this is exactly what happened to journalist, Jennifer Steil. Restless in her career and her life, Jennifer, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the staff of The Yemen Observer in Sana a, the beautiful, ancient, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the challenging prospect of teaching a free speech model of journalism there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper s editor-in-chief. But she is quickly confronted with the realities of Yemen--and their surprising advantages. In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that included 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. What s more, she just so happens to meet the love of her life. With exuberance and bravery, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky offers a rare, intimate, and often surprising look at the role of the media in Muslim culture and a fascinatingcultural tour ofYemen, one of the most enigmatic countries in the world. From the Hardcover edition. Seller Inventory # AAS9780767930512

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 13.36
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Jennifer Steil
Published by Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc), United States (2011)
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc), United States, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. I had no idea how to find my way around this medieval city. It was getting dark. I was tired. I didn t speak Arabic. I was a little frightened. But hadn t I battled scorpions in the wilds of Costa Rica and prevailed? Hadn t I survived fainting in a San Jose brothel? Hadn t I once arrived in Ireland with only $10 in my pocket and made it last two weeks? Surely I could handle a walk through an unfamiliar town. So I took a breath, tightened the black scarf around my hair, and headed out to take my first solitary steps through Sana a. -- from The Woman Who Fell From The Sky In a world fraught with suspicion between the Middle East and the West, it s hard to believe that one of the most influential newspapers in Yemen--the desperately poor, ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, which has made has made international headlines for being a terrorist breeding ground--would be handed over to an agnostic, Campari-drinking, single woman from Manhattan who had never set foot in the Middle East. Yet this is exactly what happened to journalist, Jennifer Steil. Restless in her career and her life, Jennifer, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the staff of The Yemen Observer in Sana a, the beautiful, ancient, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the challenging prospect of teaching a free speech model of journalism there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper s editor-in-chief. But she is quickly confronted with the realities of Yemen--and their surprising advantages. In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that included 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. What s more, she just so happens to meet the love of her life. With exuberance and bravery, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky offers a rare, intimate, and often surprising look at the role of the media in Muslim culture and a fascinatingcultural tour ofYemen, one of the most enigmatic countries in the world. From the Hardcover edition. Seller Inventory # AAS9780767930512

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 13.80
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Jennifer Steil
Published by Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc), United States (2011)
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc), United States, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. I had no idea how to find my way around this medieval city. It was getting dark. I was tired. I didn t speak Arabic. I was a little frightened. But hadn t I battled scorpions in the wilds of Costa Rica and prevailed? Hadn t I survived fainting in a San Jose brothel? Hadn t I once arrived in Ireland with only $10 in my pocket and made it last two weeks? Surely I could handle a walk through an unfamiliar town. So I took a breath, tightened the black scarf around my hair, and headed out to take my first solitary steps through Sana a. -- from The Woman Who Fell From The Sky In a world fraught with suspicion between the Middle East and the West, it s hard to believe that one of the most influential newspapers in Yemen--the desperately poor, ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, which has made has made international headlines for being a terrorist breeding ground--would be handed over to an agnostic, Campari-drinking, single woman from Manhattan who had never set foot in the Middle East. Yet this is exactly what happened to journalist, Jennifer Steil. Restless in her career and her life, Jennifer, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the staff of The Yemen Observer in Sana a, the beautiful, ancient, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the challenging prospect of teaching a free speech model of journalism there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper s editor-in-chief. But she is quickly confronted with the realities of Yemen--and their surprising advantages. In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that included 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. What s more, she just so happens to meet the love of her life. With exuberance and bravery, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky offers a rare, intimate, and often surprising look at the role of the media in Muslim culture and a fascinatingcultural tour ofYemen, one of the most enigmatic countries in the world. From the Hardcover edition. Seller Inventory # BTE9780767930512

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 14.47
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Steil, Jennifer
Published by Broadway Books
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Mediaoutlet12345
(Springfield, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Broadway Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0767930517 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Seller Inventory # SWATI2132159580

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 10.68
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Steil, Jennifer
Published by Broadway Books
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Broadway Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0767930517. Seller Inventory # Z0767930517ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.35
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Jennifer Steil
Published by Broadway (2011)
ISBN 10: 0767930517 ISBN 13: 9780767930512
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Broadway, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Seller Inventory # DADAX0767930517

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 10.60
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book