Book: Hala Alyan, Salt Houses, 2017

By |May 7th, 2018|Country: |


A debut novel set across the Middle East from a young American-Palestinian author. Great, enveloping reading. I was not a big fan of the constant POV switching, especially because sometimes the narrator would be the one I was less interested in. I also thought that there was too little happening to the characters throughout. Perhaps some people are fans of family sagas, and all the shouts and murmurs, but I prefer bigger stakes. However, I understand that this was implied as a political gesture, to make the Palestinian family at the center of the narrative very even, very average (albeit privileged) and show, through that, the way war affects them.

I just don’t think that I’m the target audience for this. I know full well that war is terrible, people shouldn’t suffer, and the creation of Israel led to a giant tragedy. Also, being a fundamentalist is not an answer to any of the world’s problems. I share these opinions with the author, and perhaps this is why to me the narrative tasted a little bland. But I understand that it would be an important read for someone who is staunchly pro-Israel, for instance, perhaps changing their view of Zionist politics? I sure hope so.

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017