Salt Houses Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home.
On the eve of her daughter Alia's wedding, Salma reads the girl's future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.
Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia's brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can't escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia's children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities.
Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand - one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can't go home again.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 15 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 02, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #74,129 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#800 in Fiction Sagas
#1,311 in Cultural Heritage Fiction
#1,439 in Family Life Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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Through the lived experiences of three generations of a Palestinian family, Salt Houses asks the reader to confront the concept of home: where is home when you have been displaced by war? Can a refugee create a new home elsewhere, even as one’s own offspring reject the values on which their culture is based? How does one maintain family bonds strained by constant upheaval? As the grandchild of emigrants who fled civil war in Belfast, Northern Ireland, these questions resonated with me.
It’s important that Salt Houses is told from the viewpoint of a moderate Palestinian family that seeks to protect its relatives, especially its sons, from jihadists—and who are deeply suspicious of the imans whipping those boys and young men into a frenzy of anti-Israeli violence. Hala Alyan succeeds in creating characters who are far from the stereotype of rock-throwing terrorists. The Yacoub family are well off, with middle-class aspirations, romances, and jobs—and a snobbish disdain for their own compatriots living in refugee camps.
From a writing perspective, several criticisms: there were too many dream sequences, which took me out of the story. Also, I did not get a sense of what many of the characters wanted. The notable exception was Alia, who is desperate to leave Kuwait and live in Amman, even as she wrestles with a deep homesickness for her childhood home in Nablus. Finally, the occasional switch to the present tense was jarring. These issues are the reason I only gave the book 4 stars.
Anyone interested in fictional representations of Middle East history will enjoy Salt Houses
"Atia remains too frightened to say anything that might unnerve him. What she knows about her husband, what she thought she knew about the man, has scattered like dandelion seeds beneath a child's breath since he returned from the war." Hala Alyan, Salt Houses
From the breathtaking book cover to the magnificent writing, Salt Houses is an extraordinary novel and worthy of praise. Alyan is a gifted writer who brings us a realistic story of an upper-class Palestinian family's bond, and survival through war and displacement. Although I have never been to Nablus, Kuwait or Beirut, through Alyan's impressive descriptions, I felt I had. I was able to feel the joys and sorrows of Salma, Alia, Atef, and the rest of the Yacoub family. I also learned some history of Palestinian Arabs, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Six-day War of 1967.
I honestly cannot imagine having to abandon my home, possessions, and loved ones. Or if I had to move from country to country multiple times because of war, or fear of war. Without a doubt, displacement immobilizes countries involved in a civil conflict, and unfortunately, its citizens are the ones who suffer the most. Being displaced impacts an individual's life emotionally and physically. Salt Houses gives readers a candid look at the Yacoubs' despair and hope for a better life throughout four generations. As a reader, you also witness how the family tries to remain connected, and not lose their cultural origins; while trying to assimilate to all of the different countries. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of the Palestinian diaspora.