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Extended Audio Sample The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Journalist in Yemen Audiobook, by Jennifer Steil Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (389 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jennifer Steil Narrator: Jennifer Steil Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2010 ISBN: 9781400187232
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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 modified burqa she wears. 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A delightful and straight-talking story of one American woman living, working, and finding friendship and love in a Muslim country. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • “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…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…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

  • “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

  • “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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Abdo | 2/19/2014

    " I enjoyed both the journalism/ newspaper story as well as her "foreigner in Yemen" part of the story. Her openness to adventure and the culture made this a great read and a glimpse into a state I didn't know much about. There is some about the politics and government, but also a lot about culture and people, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I enjoyed that the Yemeni woman who got the fellowship in Mississippi said it wasn't so different from Yemen. Before anyone takes offense, I rather take it as something I've thought for a long time- that people aren't so different as we make them out to be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/12/2014

    " This was a well written and interesting book. I enjoyed most of it. My problem with the book however is that the author starts out having a bountiful amount of morals and respect for the country she is in but by the end of the book it seems as though she's lost all of that. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Northshire Bookstore | 2/3/2014

    " After a brief job teaching journalism at a newspaper in Sana'a, Yemen, Manhattan journalist Steil returned as editor-in-chief. Her adjustment to this strict Arabic country reveals a complex culture and people little understood by Americans. A fascinating book. -- Louise J. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsay | 1/28/2014

    " great new book exploring a part of the world that I really have no interest in physically traveling to- but her descriptions were able to mentally transport me to Yemen night after night. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 1/17/2014

    " I really liked this book. It is a true story about the author's year in Yemen as an editor of an English language newspaper. She rented a home in the old part of the city and became friends with neighbors and, of course, her staff at the paper. It was very interesting to learn about living in Sana'a and she has enough personal feelings and experiences to make it fun. She enjoyed living in Yemen and her time in Yemen. I am always fascinated with the segregation of the sexes in the middle east. Every time I read enough about it I am baffled by the men's attitude toward women. Read about her taxi ride with a driver who begins to masturbate, I assume because he is driving an unaccompanied woman and that is so arousing!??? What's with that? She did tell you that the women on her staff are hard working and that she thinks perhaps the men are less so because they are so entitled. Plus they chew "qat" all the time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 1/15/2014

    " Really enjoyed. Seeing the Yemen culture through an outsider's eyes was facisinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Henri Bauhaus | 12/30/2013

    " This is a great book for armchair travelers. The story takes you into Yemen and includes a look at the old city of San'a, the workings of Yemeni society, some journeys into exotic locales and even a good long look at a woman's life behind the veil. A truly wonderful story and a great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 12/21/2013

    " A good read about a journalist who moved to Yemen to help run a newspaper. If you want to understand this countries traditions, life as a woman, political constraints, and everyday life, this is a good book. It is non-fiction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 12/11/2013

    " Fascinating memoir about an American journalist who becomes editor of an English newspaper in Yemen. The end was a bit fairy tale, like in Eat, Pray, Love, but otherwise, a great memoir of woman alone in an exotic, alien culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eileen | 10/28/2013

    " Interesting read about life in Yemen, esp with the news in Egypt. A rather abrupt happy ending seemed a a bit Hollywoodesque. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 8/2/2013

    " Odd title, but a very readable and enjoyable book. Seems to describe the experience of being an American in Yemen quite well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 12/26/2012

    " true story - lots about the culture - sagged in the middle "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathryn | 7/13/2012

    " Jennifer Steil is a good author and the story she had to tell was a good one. There was just too much politics for me and not enough story about the people and the way of life. I realize politics is their story and their life, but it just lost me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 8/6/2011

    " Gorgeous book. Could not put it down. Read it in one day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christy | 2/24/2011

    " This is a great tale of the challenges of implementing democratic principles in the Arab world. Jennifer goes to Yemen to train journalists and finds all kinds of obstacles to her efforts. A fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eileen | 1/28/2011

    " Interesting read about life in Yemen, esp with the news in Egypt. A rather abrupt happy ending seemed a a bit Hollywoodesque. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina | 12/10/2010

    " I learned a lot about Yemen and its history. Before I read this book, I could barely locate it on a map. (How American-centric am I!) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patti | 11/7/2010

    " I really liked this book. It was an engaging read in a journalistic style and brought me into two worlds I have been really curious about- journalism and everyday life in Yemen. It made me want to learn more... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristin | 10/31/2010

    " A very interesting western view of life in Yemen. I learned alot about the culture and people. Not a well-written book, very repetitive and with a poor ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Irene | 6/16/2010

    " Good book. I learned a lot about Yemen. The story of the American journalist trying to edit a Yemeni paper was interesting. "

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About the Author
Author Jennifer Steil

Jennifer Steil is the author of The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, a memoir about her experiences running a newspaper in Yemen. She lives in Bolivia, where her husband is the European Union ambassador.