WHAT CHANGES EVERYTHING

Masha Hamilton

After Todd Barbery, director of a humanitarian organization working with refugees, is assaulted and kidnapped on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan nothing remains the same. How could it?

What Changes Everything is the story of Todd’s wife, Clarissa, who tries to save her husband, while her own life spins out of control in the dark nights of Brooklyn. There on the night streets, she meets Danil, an angry New York graffiti artist whose life was derailed by a loss in the same incomprehensible war half a world away. Danil’s mother Stela writes letter after letter from her bookstore in Cleveland in hopes of comprehending the loss of one son on an Afghan battlefield and of reconnecting with Danil,

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After Todd Barbery, director of a humanitarian organization working with refugees, is assaulted and kidnapped on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan nothing remains the same. How could it?

What Changes Everything is the story of Todd’s wife, Clarissa, who tries to save her husband, while her own life spins out of control in the dark nights of Brooklyn. There on the night streets, she meets Danil, an angry New York graffiti artist whose life was derailed by a loss in the same incomprehensible war half a world away. Danil’s mother Stela writes letter after letter from her bookstore in Cleveland in hopes of comprehending the loss of one son on an Afghan battlefield and of reconnecting with Danil, who abandoned her in anger when his brother died. This is also the story of Mandy, a mother from Texas, grappling with the fury of a wounded son who barely made it home from that war. And it’s Todd’s story, too, who for only a moment let down his guard in a Kabul marketplace and now confronts the worst of possibilities.

But, remarkably, What Changes Everything also tells another story: the true story of Mohammad Najibullah, the last president of Afghanistan during the Communist era, whose fall from power was made final by the arrival of the Taliban. The letters in this novel from Najibullah to his three daughters are imagined, but the author had the privilege of lengthy exchanges with one of them, who shared recollections of her father—and a poem her mother had written about him.

In this knowing new book, Masha Hamilton braids the lives of all these characters, real and imagined, into a powerful novel about the grace of human connections in a world that is so often too harsh and dangerous to face alone.

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  • Unbridled Books
  • Hardcover
  • June 2013
  • 272 Pages
  • 9781609530914

Buy the Book

$25.00

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About Masha Hamilton

Masha Hamilton is the author of four acclaimed novels, most recently 31 Hours, which The Washington Post called one of the best novels of 2009, and independent bookstores named an Indie choice. She also founded two world literacy projects, the Camel Book Drive and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. She is the winner of the 2010 Women’s National Book Association award. She is the Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy in Kabul.

Praise

“Hamilton’s descriptions are vivid, especially when portraying the tension and uncertainty that families of political prisoners endure. Fans of topical fiction will appreciate this knowledgeable and nuanced view of the Afghan war.”Library Journal

“Masha Hamilton’s fiction evinces an in-depth understanding of fraught global politics that she presumably acquired as a foreign correspondent. But she also demonstrates the empathy and imagination of a born novelist….Brilliantly nuanced…Hamilton’s warmth toward her characters leads us to hope they will be granted reconciliation and renewal, and in some cases they are. But her elegantly wrought prose conveys terror as well as tenderness, and she cannot be false to Afghanistan’s history by suggesting peace will come easily, or to everyone. She can only show us, with compassion and insight, people trying to behave honorably in terrible circumstances.”The Washington Post Book World

“Journalist-turned-novelist Masha Hamilton has produced a new novel in her trademark vein, with harrowing crisis, conflict and dilemma, and deep psychological probing of self.”The Washington Independent Review of Books

“Engaging….Straddling two lands while depicting the strength of human relationships even in the darkest moments, this seamless blend of fact and fiction through illuminating prose makes the story a rewarding and thought-provoking read.”Publishers Weekly