Tanya Shaffer: Writer, Performer, Traveler
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Somebody's Heart Is Burning:
A Woman Wanderer in Africa
by Tanya Shaffer
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"It struck me, then, that the only changes we humans are capable of are small ones. You can beat yourself up for years, wishing you could be kinder, happier, more decisive and secure. And then one day you realize you've made a slight shift, moved your inner lens a fraction of an inch to this side or that…You haven't solved everything, maybe you haven't solved anything, but if you're lucky, that small shift will be the difference between holding your life in grace and simply holding on."
"It's my life, and if I want to run from it I can," quips Tanya Shaffer. An incorrigible wanderer, Shaffer has a habit of fleeing domesticity for the joys and rigors of the open road. This time her destination is Ghana, and what results is a transformative year spent roaming the African continent. Eager to transcend the limitations of tourism, Shaffer works as a volunteer, building schools and hospitals in remote villages. At the heart of her tale are the profound, complex, often challenging relationships she forms with those she meets along the way.

Whether recounting a perilous boat trip to Timbuktu, a night of impassioned political debate in Ghana, or a fumbled romance in Burkina Faso, Shaffer portrays the collision of African and North American cultures with self-deprecating humor and clear-eyed compassion. Filled with warmth, candor, and an exuberant sense of adventure, Somebody's Heart is Burning deftly explores themes of privilege, wealth, and the true meaning of friendship.
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Somebody's Heart is Burning Home
Press
*** ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2003! ***
- San Francisco Chronicle
INTERVIEW:   Read a Q & A with Tanya in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Perhaps the best of [recent] adventure books penned by women... These incredible characters...form a vivid pastiche."
- Vogue
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"[Shaffer] writes with knife-sharp perception, often using a person or event to tell a much larger tale…She captures the details that tell the larger story about Ghana and Africa, a place of stunning beauty, shocking poverty and loving people so often ravaged by violence and disease."
- USA Today
"[Shaffer's] observant recollections clarify her intimate, soul-searching journey and give texture to the narrative, with a candor and tenderness that render it immediately accessible.... Shaffer's focus is on the people she meets, colorful Ghanaians whose stories and actions bring present-day Africa alive."
- San Francisco Chronicle
"Shaffer is a natural storyteller and she evokes the villages she visited and the people she met masterfully. Readers…will be enthralled by her tales."
- Booklist
"[Shaffer] has a wonderful light touch... She is one of those people who makes all conflict seem childish and unnecessary."
- Los Angeles Times
"There is an exuberant and frank quality about Shaffer's writing that will have readers booking flights to West Africa."
- The Skanner
"An adventurous memoir…described with humor, feeling, and vivid detail."
- Library Journal
"Shaffer's vivid memoir captures scenes of Kenya, Mali and, most notably, Ghana, rarely seen by American tourists…Her tales are rich in visual and cultural explication; villages and hamlets too tiny for names come to hot, vibrant, scent-laden, insect-thrumming life."
- Publisher's Weekly
"Shaffer's stories read more like parables than journalism, gracefully bringing to life that tenuous zone where people of different cultures interact and try to understand one another."
- Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
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