Hala Alyan / Salt Houses
Join us to celebrate a dazzling new literary voice, Hala Alyan, and her debut novel, Salt Houses, 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.
“Hala Alyan's Salt Houses flies like a searchlight between history and fiction, unearthing the life of a single displaced Palestinian family among the rubble and illuminating it so deeply, so brilliantly, we cannot help but connect the story's richly imagined past to our very real present." -- Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalkers’ Guide to Dancing
"Salt Houses is a piercingly elegant novel that registers Palestine with deep resonance for what it is: a once beloved home, known, lost, and re-imagined into life. A place where families decide between security and happiness, religion and heritage, where war is constant, yet peace is found. In the exquisite prose of a poet, Hala Alyan shows how we carry our origins in our hearts wherever we may roam, and how that history is calibrated by the places we choose to put down roots. This is a book with the power to both break and mend your heart." -- Ru Freeman, author of On Sal Mal Lane
Hala Alyan is an award-winning Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in numerous journals including The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner and Colorado Review. She resides in Manhattan.
RSVP appreciated but not required. If you cannot attend the event, but would like to request a signed copy of Salt Houses, please order below and put your request in the comments field.