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The Arsonists' City: A Novel Paperback – August 2, 2022

4.5 out of 5 stars 377 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Breathless...Alyan plants the riches of the city with stealthy precision, making the maddening conundrum of Beirut yours...From Lebanon, we visit Syria. We reach back to Palestine. The three nations mirror the imperfect, strained yet inextricable relationship of the Nasr children, now adults...Alyan distilled the fog of displacement and exposes the ways an unfamiliar culture can devour the traits that make us special. And when plumbing the intricacies of race and womanhood, Alyan turns paragraphs into poetry.”  — New York Times Book Review

 "Feels revolutionary in its freshness...The book has all the elements we expect from a family saga, but set against the backdrop of Lebanon’s long, sad history, the narrative stakes are so much higher." — Entertainment Weekly

"Beautifully illustrating the complexities, fragilities and flaws of families, this heartfelt novel centers siblings struggling to make a decision about the sale of the family home in Beirut as secrets, bonds and the legacies of war come to the fore."   — Ms. magazine

“I didn’t think I could love The Arsonists’ City as much as Salt Houses, but I did. It was sharp, thought-provoking. I couldn’t put it down. Hala Alyan is a lyrical force, a much-needed Arab American voice.”  — Etaf Rum, New York Times best-selling author of A Woman Is No Man  

“I don’t exactly understand how Hala Alyan does it—conjures love, sorrow, betrayal, and joy; goes from being funny and warm to incisive and thoughtful—but as a reader, I’m glad that she does. The Arsonists’ City delivers all the pleasures of a good old-fashioned saga but in Alyan’s hands, one family’s tale becomes the story of a nation—Lebanon and Syria, yes, but also the United States. It’s the kind of book we are lucky to have.”  — Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind  

"Alyan’s novel brims with life as the Nasr family’s secrets are revealed, pushing past into present. Spanning across the globe, from Palestine to Lebanon and from Syria to America, each character is housed in pockets of social and identity politics, exile, civil war, and everything in between...They must relive their lives, where love rushes to the fore as quickly as heartbreak." — Arab News  

"A profound inquiry into what it means to be a family, determine your identity, and hold onto a home — particularly in a world that doesn't always weigh equally the importance of everyone's home, identity, and family...Alyan is virtuosic at portraying the complicated bonds that exist between family members, and she is unafraid to show both the beauty and the despair that come with true intimacy, love, and loss."  — Refinery 29

"Simultaneously a sprawling look across five decades at the legacy of unending violence in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon and Syria, and an intimate, heartfelt portrait of a family gathering at their ancestral home in Beirut."  — The OC Register  

"Alyan’s varied talents never cease to amaze."  — The Millions

"Alyan, author of the award-winning Salt Houses, has written another family saga studded with the same beautiful lyricism...Makes for great fiction." — Lit Hub  

"A sweeping family saga that examines the insidious long shadow of war...Alyan brings her talents to examine the ongoing crisis of Palestinian displacement in The Arsonist’s City through deeply imagined characters, place-based descriptions that teem with life, and attention to conflicts from past to present day."  — Jacqueline Alnes, Electric Literature  

"Alyan, who is a family therapist as well as a poet and novelist, has a gift for depicting the knotty, messy but ultimately resilient bonds of family love. Though The Arsonists’ City lays bare how civil war and brutal violence impact a single family, it is the everyday, sometimes petty squabbles between husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child that make this novel both memorable and relatable."  — BookPage 

"This multi-generational story is deeply thought-provoking."  — HelloGiggles 

“No one knows the human heart like Hala Alyan. Her ability to show its unexpected contours is on full display in The Arsonists' City—a book so gorgeously written I found myself reading sentences aloud just to keep them with me a little longer."  — Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk and The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

About the Author

HALA ALYAN is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the novel The Arsonists’ City and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by TheNew Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, Literary Hub, the New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, where she works as a clinical psychologist.
 
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper Perennial (August 2, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0358695236
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0358695233
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.31 x 1.05 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 377 ratings

About the author

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Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in Guernica and other literary journals. Her poetry collection ATRIUM was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry, while her latest collection, HIJRA, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and published by Southern Illinois University Press. Her debut novel, SALT HOUSES, is forthcoming by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017. She is a Lannan fellow and currently resides in Brooklyn.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
377 global ratings

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Rolla Khadduri
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic and deeply engaging novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 10, 2021