Hala Alyan was born in 1986. After living in various parts of the Middle East, she completed a doctorate in psychology and is now in practice at New York University. She has been published in Guernica and other literary journals, and is the award-winning author of three poetry collections. “Salt Houses” is her first novel. Hala is also a seasoned performer, and her TEDx talk and appearances can be viewed at www.halaalyan.com. She lives in New York City.
Author Website: https://www.halaalyan.com/
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.