All the Way to Heaven

An American Boyhood in the Himalayas

Stephen Alter enjoyed an unusual childhood in the first range of the Himalayas, growing up in the hill station of Mussoorie. He recalls the community of missionaries, to which his parents and grandparents belonged, along with unsettling boyhood memories of realizing that he is a foreigner in the land of his birth. This story attempts to answer the question, “Where do you come from?” even as it rejects the simplistic and insidious labels of nationality, ethnicity and religion.


A richly absorbing read … a skillfully crafted double-refraction in which two distant worlds illuminate each other through the pinhole of a child’s eye.

Amitav Ghosh

All the Way to Heaven is like a breath of air from the Himalayas themselves … and poetically evocative both of India and of childhood. Stephen Alter’s voice is as unique as his life and background.

Anita Desai