A riveting memoir about one woman's journey into Syria under the Baathist regime and an unexpected love story between two strangers searching for meaning. When Stephanie Saldana arrives in Damascus, she is running away from a broken heart and a haunted family history that she has crossed the world to escape. Yet as she moves into a tumbling Ottoman house in the heart of the Old City, she is unprepared for the complex world that awaits her: an ancient capital where Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Kurds, and Palestinian and Iraqi refugees share a fragile co-existence. Soon she is stumbling through the Arabic language, fielding interviews from the secret police, and struggling to make the city her own. But as the political climate darkens and the war in neighboring Iraq threatens to spill over, she flees to an ancient Christian monastery carved into the desert cliffs, where she is forced to confront the life she left behind. Soon she will meet a series of improbable teachers: an iconoclastic Italian priest, a famous female Muslim sheikh, a wounded Iraqi refugee, and Frederic, a young French novice monk who becomes her best friend. What follows is a tender story of a woman falling in love: with God, with her own life, with a country on the brink of chaos, and with a man she knows she can never have. Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, "The Bread of Angels "celebrates the hope that appears even in war, the surprising places we can call home, and the possibility of true love.
Stephanie Saldana grew up in Texas and received a B.A. from Middlebury College and a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School. She was a Watson and a Fulbright scholar and has won several awards for her poetry. She lives in Jerusalem and teaches at the Honors College for Liberal Arts and Sciences, a partnership of Bard College and Al-Quds University.