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House of Sand and Fog

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  101,590 Ratings  ·  3,501 Reviews
In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a wealthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young woman whose house is all she has left, and wh ...more
Published November 11th 2003 by HarperAudio (first published 1999)
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Dara I agree with the other answers, but would add that some of the characters make really, really bad decisions and I'm not sure a 6th grader is ready to…moreI agree with the other answers, but would add that some of the characters make really, really bad decisions and I'm not sure a 6th grader is ready to absorb what they're doing. I read this in my 30's and am still processing it several years later. It's a very disturbing book and I would wait a long time before even considering reading it. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 15, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
“And that's what I wanted: obliteration. Decimation. Just an instant smear of me right out of all this rising and falling and nothing changing that feels like living.”

In the beginning there was Kathy Nicolo.

She is an addict who has been through a drug rehabilitation program. She has been flying straight for a while. She cleans houses for a modest living. She spends most of her free time watching movies, one after the other. All is going okay until she has a dispute with the county over the hou
Jan 25, 2008 Marta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
uuuugh i hated this book!!!!!! BUT before i start trashing it, i'll say that there is one thing i liked about it - the author's ability to give two completely different viewpoints and make the reader understand and empathize with them both. all i'll say about the plot is that it's about two people fighting for the ownership of a bungalow (that in itself should have stopped me from picking up this book - boringgggggg). i found myself rooting for each character at different times, for which i give ...more
When the Shah of Iran is ousted and a revolution breaks out in the country, Colonel Massoud Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force, and his family, once respected and well-to-do residents in their country, become nothing else but vulnerable immigrants to the United States where the only status left for them is to be called foreigners for the rest of their lives, even though they become full citizens. He works two jobs, as a trash picker along the highways by day, and as a late-night ...more
Richard Derus
May 10, 2012 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.75* of five

The Book Report: Behrani. An exiled colonel in the Shah's army. Kathy. A fucked-up druggie living off her inheritance. Lester. A major idiot whose law-enforcement career is his last best shot at staying off welfare.

Not one of these people will leave this book better than they entered it. Kathy's only home is the one she inherited, and the county says it's not hers anymore because she hasn't paid the taxes. She has, though. She's completely unable to function in the world bec
Nandakishore Varma
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shira Karp
Apr 20, 2007 Shira Karp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like a lot of character development
I loved this book. It was amazing. I never thought I would get so wrapped up in a story where the main character was actually a house (or should I say a "bungalow" as that is how it is mostly referred to in the book). In the first few chapters it seemed obvious who the good guy and who the bad guy in the story were, but I quickly found that line blurred and throughout the whole book I didn't know who to root for, I wanted them both to win. The reason I only gave this book four stars instead of t ...more
Mar 20, 2008 Shannon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my worst enemy
Recommended to Shannon by: Oprah - I should have known better
Shelves: the-big-stink
I have never had such a horribly visceral reaction to a novel. The story unfolded tragically but the writing unraveled something worse. The author only succeeded in presenting two sides of a story equally - I didn't care about either one, or the little abode (widows walk or not).

To torture myself further, I watched the movie. I am a fan of Ben Kingsley and couldn't possibly see how he would go blindly into such a disappointing set up. You know how the movie is never as good as the book - this is
Mar 01, 2011 Jimmy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Andre Dubus III's second novel, House of Sand and Fog was adapted to film in 2003 by a Ukrainian-Americana director by the name of Vadim Perelman. Luckily, Perelman enlisted the help of Roger Deakins A.S.C., who's really just a wizard behind the camera. Also, Deakins is the man partially responsible for why most of the films by the Coen's look so inimical and striking in that trademark, neo-noir way that they do. He's also quite talented at dancing around landscapes and interiors with his camera ...more
Oct 23, 2008 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll spare reviewing the entire plot, since I see many posters have done a fine job already.

My thought through this book was that Kathy was responsible for most of the problems in this story. She was the one who ignored the tax notices (having answered them would have fixed the clerical error), she was the one who went to the Iranians home after being told not to by her lawyer, and she didn't stand up to her boyfriend when the situation went completely out of control.
Granted, her entire life wa
Jun 13, 2007 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The reason I love this book is because it beautifully presents a problem from two sides, then let's the reader decide which side he or she supports. This isn't foxnews. The author transitions from chapter to chapter between the two main characters, using wonderful language for each, and then lets the reader decide. Neither of the characters were perfect, but neither could be classified as "bad guys". Andre Dubois III is my favorite modern author, his short stories are also amazing.
Cathy DuPont
Dec 15, 2011 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Cathy by: Vanessa, my bookseller
After finishing House of Sand and Fog, I read some reviews on Kindle. Most gave four or five stars but scattered among those were a few one and two stars with comments such as 'the sale of the house could have been prevented, the premise just wasn't plausible and landscape description was wrong.'

The House was the center, the subject and even in the title of the book. The two main characters, an Iranian military colonel under the Shah who brought his family to America after the fall of the Shah
As a renter with cable television, I had a relatively safe perch from which to view the housing boom and bust in America. From the safety of my beloved armchair, covered in crumbs and clad in sweatpants, I could flip the channels and watch any number of reality shows about ordinary Americans flipping houses. The game was simple. You bought a cheap house, with the abundant available credit, fixed it up, and turned around and sold it. Do it right, and you could pocket a year's worth of salary in s ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Jillian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 13, 2011 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing really wrong with this book. It's well-written, psychologically astute with distinct voices for the different narrators who are desperate, needy and proud. It is appropriately heart-wrenching at the most critical point in the story. Having said all that, maybe I should give it 5, or at least 4, stars, but I found that it isn't my kind of story in a way that I'm not sure I can explain. Perhaps it's because it's like watching a car wreck, or people on a so-called reality show. Whi ...more
Wow. What a book. I have to admit that his has been on my bookshelves for at least a couple years now. I have taken it down at least a couple times now, each time deterred by the vague premise. Not because it was vague, necessarily, but because what I could glean from it did not appeal to me. Immigrants? Another make it in America story? The Land of Opportunity? Very few out of the many books of this type are worth reading. Like books detailing lives during World War II, most notably concentrati ...more
May 29, 2007 Sammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-the-good
This book was really good. Lol. Yeah, I put that so eloquently and explained my reasoning really well, didn't I? But no, really, this book was really good. Let's clear my only problem with it out of the way before I start on the stuff I truly enjoyed about the novel...

Slow start. That's my only problem. It really took a while for things to kick up, but once they did it was a very exciting read. And even though I didn't like the slowness of the beginning part of the novel, I wouldn't have had it
Mary Gibbons
The House of Sand and Fog was a book that I had high expectations for. The reviews for this book have been above average, and (which I didn't find out until after I read) it was chosen for Oprah's Book Club. While I typically act high brow towards anything that is touted by the O, she has chosen to like some classics that I have, 'On the Road' being one of them. Though I don't know how the typical Oprah watcher could really get in to this... that is not the point.

Anyways, back to Dubas' book. I
Feb 13, 2009 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too many paragraphs like "Around noon, I picked up my mail at the post office, then went to a shopping center sandwich shop to sift through it all while I ate. It was only ten days' worth but it took up all of my table, and I put it in two piles, one for the trash can on the way out, one to keep. The trash pile was mostly junk mail, the other was bills: car insurance, gas, my final phone, electric. The electric bill was the most recent and I opened it and read the cutoff date for the last billin ...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

“For our excess we lost everything.”

Here I am, another Oprah Book club selection, continuing to be impressed by the pickings. My edition shows a gloomy black house, enshrouded by fog, perfectly matching up to story’s disconsolate atmosphere.

As I felt myself disappearing into the characters, my initial doubt about adjusting to the semi-unusual writing styled faded. It’s a slow-paced, sedate book where the reader feels as if they’re moving in a dreamy fog with the helpless characters who, despite
Nov 03, 2008 Malbadeen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "non-readers"
Recommended to Malbadeen by: every goodwill/salvation army/Value Village shelf in the pdx me
Okay, now that two people who's opinion I typically admire and generally like have told me how much they "loved" this book, I have to fess up...I didn't LOVE it. I thought it was good. I think Dubus is amazing at voice and plot is definitely exciting but about 1/2 way into, my brain started kerplunking over passages and I felt like I was watching a mini-series and I was just anxious for it to be over.

The first kerplunk was when Lester went to the woods to cut fire wood. Hellooooooooo! everyone
Patricia Elizabeth
Aug 07, 2007 Patricia Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
It took less than a chapter for me to realize this was not a book I wanted to finish. The entire time I was reading that chapter I felt as if I were watching a car wreck. It's not as if I demand a book be all happiness and sunshine but I didn't get the feeling that there was going to be anything redeeming about this book for me. As much as I appreciate that Oprah has been instrumental in getting people to read, it seems to me that so many of her books are absolute downers. I don't see how people ...more
House of Sand and Fog, a National Book Award finalist, is a story of an unresolved issue that entangles the lives of three people, and turns into a crushing conflict with tragic consequences.

An in depth character analysis well worth the read.

4 out of 5 stars.
Dec 02, 2007 Rosie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a brilliant explication of what can happen when two desperate people's lives collide and become entwined. Dubus introduces us to two characters who couldn't be more at odds - Kathy Niccolo, a Saugus, MA native who has moved to California to escape shades of her drug-addled, under-achieving past, and Massoud Behrani, a hardworking, regimented ex-Colonel who fled Iran after a political uprising, who is struggling to maintain a semblance of dignity in a country that has little opportu ...more
Ok, the basic premise of the novel isn't plausible. I won't go into any details so as not to include spoilers, other than the whole auction thing..would never happen that way. Because it was so far fetched , I was totally aware i was reading fiction the whole time, so the story and the characters never seemed real to me, thus the 3 star rating.

I did think that the character development was done well. Each of the characters were likeable and unlikeable all at once. I also enjoyed how the jumping
Mar 08, 2009 iam marked it as the-freezer  ·  review of another edition
I read it up to page 94. Started getting a little worried that this would turn out to be one of those books I might not want to actually read. There aren't many of those. I can handle suspense, gore, & even on very very very rare occasions I can even read a book with Zombies in it. Sometimes though, being a Daddy's girl, I just can't handle seeing (or reading) a certain type of character deal with certain types of issues. Anyway, I decided to read the last two pages just in case this thing h ...more
I am a little surprised reading all of the reviews by other people of this book. No one supports Kathy in this endeavor. Everyone has mainly sympathy for Behrani and his moral stance and I must admit, i find that a bit shocking. Let me get this straight, I don't particularly like Kathy, or Behrani, or Les for that matter and I do understand each of their viewpoints. However, I'm shocked that people would consider a bureaucratic error fair reason for losing your home. People keep referring to her ...more
Book Concierge
It starts with a bureaucratic mistake. Massoud Behrani, formerly part of the Shah of Iran’s elite inner circle, is working two menial jobs in an effort to maintain a semblance of the wealth and status his family once enjoyed. His family is blissfully unaware of their circumstances, but he knows that he cannot maintain the charade for long and must find a way to achieve the American dream. He sees his opportunity in a newspaper advertisement for a sheriff’s auction – a nice bungalow near the ocea ...more
Leanna Henderson
What was the point? That's how I felt at the end. Only reason I gave it two stars and not one is that it did hold my interest, surprisingly.

I agree with one poster who said Kathy Nicolo was very annoying, weak and pathetic. First of all, you're a dumbass for not opening your tax notices. Secondly, you've got the opportunity here to sue the pants off the county. Why the heck would you tell your lawyer to forget about it???? Third, your boyfriend shows up at the house wielding a gun...why don't y
Jun 12, 2008 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is like being frozen to the spot while you're watching a train wreck about to happen. It's an emotional wringer. Ultimately, I have to say it's 3.5 stars out of 5. (SPOILER ALERT) I did pop out of the narrative a few times, mostly due to goofy stuff (such as inaccuracies about the SF Bay Area; eg, having BART in Pacifica?!). But really, the basic premise of the novel isn't plausible. I couldn't see the county evicting somebody one day and then auctioning the place off the very ...more
Jun 05, 2007 Siria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been tighter towards the end; it gets a little bit predictable, and meanders to a close rather than ends. That aside, this is still an incredibly powerful piece of work. It's not a light book to get through; there are no heroes and there are very few innocents. Behrani, Kathy and Lester, three of the main characters of the novel, are all some of the most finely carved characters I've read in a long time. None of them are perfect; they are all fallible, none of them are even ...more
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Andre Dubus III is the author of The Garden of Last Days, House of Sand and Fog (a #1 New York Times bestseller, Oprah’s Book Club pick, and finalist for the National Book Award) and Townie, winner of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with ...more
More about Andre Dubus III...

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“The truth is life is full of joy and full of great sorrow, but you can't have one without the other.” 2070 likes
“it's almost easier being down and alone than when you re up and no one s there to share the view with you” 34 likes
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