One for the Road (04/02/07)

We’ll waste no time kicking off the revived book feature with this one: What I love about this book is that the completed product is both a creative work of fiction and a messenger that helps spread the word about real life happenings and how we can help. The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, although a fictional tale, is based on the real camel-borne library that has operated in Kenya’s northeastern province since 1996.

Hamilton’s third novel tells the story of an American woman who brings a traveling library to African villages, and addresses important issues of cultural conflict in the process. The actual library operates from the city of Garissa, using 12 camels to visit four settlements per day, four days per week. The traveling library brings books to a semi-nomadic people along the unstable Somalian border who live with drought, famine and chronic poverty.

Hamilton started a book donation project in February 2007 that has already inspired over 150 authors to donate copies of five of their favorite books to be shipped to Kenya. You can read more about the novel, issues surrounding African literacy, and how to make a book donation of your own at the Camel Bookmobile Blog. Hamilton’s website has additional info about the story behind the book.

And a special bonus for NYC Gadling readers: Masha will be at McNally Robinson Booksellers tonight at 7 pm. There will be a reading, discussion and slide show of Hamilton’s time spent with the Camel Bookmobile in 2006. (I’ll be dropping by myself, so see ya there!)