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About Hala Alyan
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.
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Titles By Hala Alyan
“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
A rich family story, a personal look at the legacy of war in the Middle East, and an indelible rendering of how we hold on to the people and places we call home
The Nasr family is spread across the globe—Beirut, Brooklyn, Austin, the California desert. A Syrian mother, a Lebanese father, and three American children: all have lived a life of migration. Still, they’ve always had their ancestral home in Beirut—a constant touchstone—and the complicated, messy family love that binds them. But following his father's recent death, Idris, the family's new patriarch, has decided to sell.
The decision brings the family to Beirut, where everyone unites against Idris in a fight to save the house. They all have secrets—lost loves, bitter jealousies, abandoned passions, deep-set shame—that distance has helped smother. But in a city smoldering with the legacy of war, an ongoing flow of refugees, religious tension, and political protest, those secrets ignite, imperiling the fragile ties that hold this family together.
In a novel teeming with wisdom, warmth, and characters born of remarkable human insight, award-winning author Hala Alyan shows us again that “fiction is often the best filter for the real world around us” (NPR).
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR * Nylon * Kirkus Reviews * Bustle * BookPage
“Moving and beautifully written.” — Entertainment Weekly
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.
Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses follows three generations of a Palestinian family and asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again.
“[Alyan is] a master.” — Los Angeles Review of Books
“Beautiful . . . An example of how fiction is often the best filter for the real world around us.” — NPR
“Gorgeous and sprawling . . . Heart-wrenching, lyrical and timely.” — Dallas Morning News
“[Salt Houses] illustrate[s] the inherited longing and sense of dislocation passed like a baton from mother to daughter.” — New York Times Book Review
For Hala Alyan, twenty-nine is a year of transformation and upheaval, a year in which the past—memories of family members, old friends and past lovers, the heat of another land, another language, a different faith—winds itself around the present.
Hala’s ever-shifting, subversive verse sifts together and through different forms of forced displacement and the tolls they take on mind and body. Poems leap from war-torn cities in the Middle East, to an Oklahoma Olive Garden, a Brooklyn brownstone; from alcoholism to recovery; from a single woman to a wife. This collection summons breathtaking chaos, one that seeps into the bones of these odes, the shape of these elegies.
A vivid catalog of heartache, loneliness, love and joy, The Twenty-Ninth Year is an education in looking for home and self in the space between disparate identities.
The reader sees war, diaspora, and immigration, and hears the marginalized voices of women of color. The poems use lyrical diction and striking imagery to evoke the weight of an emotional and visceral journey. They grow and build in length and form, reflecting the gains the women in the poems make in re-creating selfhood through endurance and strength.
In prose, narrative, and confessional-style poems, Alyan reflects on how physical space is refashioned, transmitted, and remembered. Her voice is distinct, fresh, relevant, and welcoming.