This summer I got a chance to be an armchair traveler and visit the ancient city of Sana’a, Yemen. The journey was relatively cheap, for all I had to do was purchase the book and soon I was transported to place on the Arabian Peninsula that was billed as the oldest inhabited city on earth. This trip was courtesy of a young woman, who went there as a newspaper editor and ending up staying much longer in an event that she describes as the most challenging year of her life.
In the capitol of Yemen, Ms. Steil was asked to help coach a young group of Yemeni English language reporters into a professional cadre of journalists. Against very overwhelming odds, the writer tackles the tough assignment, learning a lot about herself, the Yemeni culture and language in the process. Her ability to bond with the woman reporters and lift the veil off of this section of the Muslim world is remarkable. It drives story and helps turn the book into a very remarkable read.
Jennifer just happens to be in Sana’a, when events surrounding the Danish cartoon depiction of Allah broke. The newspaper and reporters all survived in tact, but one poor soul ended up in jail, just for reporting on the story. Despite this unfortunate event, the book is about undertaking a big challenge and trying to make things happen. The writing also reveals a stunning portrait of an old, old city and a beautiful and surreal landscape of an arid country. Check out the book, you’ll enjoy it; but be warned it may ignite a hidden desire to travel to strange, foreign lands. However, the story does not deal with current events that began this year in Caro and quickly spread throughout the region. But the book might provide a few insights into why this is going on today.