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Author and 1999 graduate Stephanie Saldaña to discuss new book Feb. 22

February 8, 2010

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ― Author, journalist and 1999 Middlebury graduate Stephanie Saldaña, will discuss and read from her new book, The Bread of Angels, on Monday, Feb. 22, at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones ’59 House conference room. The lecture is free and open to the public. Robert A. Jones ’59 House is located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125).

Saldaña grew up in Texas and, after Middlebury, received a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. She has long been interested in Islam and Eastern Christianity, and has lived in cities throughout the Middle East, including a year in Beirut as a journalist for an English-language newspaper. She was a Watson and a Fulbright scholar, and has won several awards for her poetry and prose.

The Bread of Angels is a memoir of Saldaña’s year on a Fulbright fellowship in Damascus, Syria, to study Arabic and explore the role of the prophet Jesus in Islam. The 27-year-old arrived in 2004, amid turbulence from the post-9/11 war in Iraq. It was not an ideal time to be an American in the Middle East. Refugees were flooding into Damascus, and rumors that Syria might be next to under American attack were rampant. Miserable and lonely, Saldaña leaves the city to visit an ancient Christian monastery in the desert. There she struggles with questions of faith, love and her future.

Renowned author and Middlebury College Writer-in-Residence Julia Alvarez has called The Bread of Angels a “stunning memoir that is both a contemporary spiritual quest and a sweet, surprising love story … Carefully observed, beautifully detailed, structured like a ceremony, The Bread of Angels takes us from a fallen world into a luminous, resurrected one through faith and love and the exquisite skill of a fine writer.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks called Saldaña “a passionate young scholar [who] confronts war, love, the mysteries of language, and God in this brilliant debut.”

The lecture series is sponsored by the Middlebury College Departments of Religion and English and American Studies, and the Middle East Studies Program. For more information, contact Middlebury College Professor of Religion Larry Yarbrough at 802-443-5294 or