Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Amanda Lindhout's Saga from Hostage in Somalia to Best-Selling Author

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Amanda Lindhout's Saga from Hostage in Somalia to Best-Selling Author

Article excerpt

Lindhout's saga from hostage to author

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Amanda Lindhout first made headlines as an unknown, aspiring journalist being held hostage in one of the world's most dangerous countries. Today, she's more likely to garner attention as a best-selling author and humanitarian activist.

The transformation from cause celebre to borderline celebrity hasn't come easily to the Alberta-born woman.

The book that's placed her name in Canada's list of best-selling titles for 65 weeks running chronicles the 15 harrowing months she spent as a captive of Somalian militants.

"A House in the Sky" offers a vivid account of physical and sexual violence, interspersed with deeply personal reflections and themes of hope.

The memoir has earned a non-fiction award in Canada and even attracted the attention of Hollywood screenwriters who are actively turning it into a movie set to star Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara.

But what proved fruitful fodder for a film script has also fuelled a personal transformation. According to Lindhout herself, the adventure-seeking former cocktail waitress and freelance journalist who travelled to Somalia in search of breaking news bore little resemblance to the emaciated hostage who emerged after being forced to convert to Islam and change her name to Amina.

More different still, she says, is the human rights crusader she is today.

"Being free is something I will never take for granted," Lindhout wrote in her book. "I'm grateful for even the smallest pleasures -- a piece of fruit, a walk in the woods, the chance to hug my mom. I wake up every day feeling thankful for all that people have given me."

Lindhout spent the first several years back in Canada away from the public eye, declining requests to share her ordeal and focusing instead on finding a new direction for her life. …

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