by Hala Alyan
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.
"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
"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
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. Her latest novel, The Arsonists' City, was a finalist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. She is also the author of five highly acclaimed collections of poetry, including The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by The New Yorker, The Academy of American Poets, Literary Hub, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her family, where she works as a clinical psychologist and professor at New York University.