—Aline Ohanesian, author of Or
And what’s the story behind the title?
It was actually titled something different at first, but when we finished all the edits…moreThis was her statement:
And what’s the story behind the title?
It was actually titled something different at first, but when we finished all the edits and it was time to send it out, my agent was like, “You need to change the title. It’s not relevant.”
So I was going over different notes, and thinking about the themes that were most salient in the book, which words were repeated. Obviously there were houses, homes. And I thought about this one scene, where one of the characters talks about remembering all of the different houses that he and his family have lived in over the decades, and thinking of them as structures made of salt that the tide can come and erase. Salt houses. That was it.
― Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
I can't even begin to imagine how it must feel to be faced with the fact that you can never return to your home. T ...more
This is a multigenerational story of a family in the Middle East. It's where traditions are weaved intricately into the daily lives of this family. It starts with a coffee ground reading for a girl about to be married, which foretells of a horrific and unstable future.
Not long ...more
A displaced family, a multigenerational story of their lives over decades in the various places they move to - from Jaffa to Kuwait to Amman to Paris and Boston . A Palestinian family, the Yacoubs, a family of means is not unscathed by the wars and the politics of the places in which they live because they live comfortably. It affords them the ability to leave their home when they have to insure their safety but it doesn't insulate them from the deep emotional consequences of being disp ...more
Powerful, eye opening cultural family saga –
This deeply absorbing novel follows a Palestinian family through several generations as they endure war, loss, and displacement.
As the story begins, Salma follows an old tradition of 'reading' the coffee dregs for her daughter, Alia, before her wedding.
What she sees, disturbs her, as it appears her daughter will lead an unsettled life, but she decides not to share her knowledge ...more
"There it is. She had not been mistaken. The porcelain surface of the teacup is white as salt; the landscape of dregs, violent."
We first meet Salma and daughter Alia the night before Alia’s wedding. A tradition passed through the generations, the reading of the coffee dregs foretells the future of the bride-to-be. The omen traced by those dregs will soon come to pass.
Spanning decades, Salt Houses depicts the absorbing story of a multigenerational family in the Middle East beginning in P ...more
This is a beautiful story about a Palestinian family uprooted from their home in Nablus in 1967 in the wake of the Six-Day War.
The story begins with a mother named Salma reading her daughter Alia's future in a cup of coffee dregs on the eve of her wedding, and follows this family through their displacement to Kuwait. In 1990 they lose everything again and scatter to Beirut, Paris, and the United States.
We will see this family grow, Alia's children, grandchildren, and follow their heartbreaks ...more
...A wonderful Palestinian family saga evolves decade by decade taking the reader from one side of the world to the other, from one culture to another beginning with the happiness of young love and marriage in a land most loved through sadness and loss and the devastation of war with recurring displacement.
...Most memorable for me, though, won't be the difficult times, but the beautiful descriptive scenery of a place I have little knowledge, the interspersion of life-changing histor...more
Lest they swing out loud and tell
How still we hide away
Shadows whisper by like brooms
Skirting halls to basement rooms;
They hunker low, waiting out the day…
“Great water lies between us
Great water moves below—
Great water lies between us
Great water begs we both arise and go”
-- Water Between Us, Joe Henry, Songwriters: Joe Henry
"That house. The ones that came after. He thinks of them, instinctively touching the soil again. All the houses they have l ...more
we are what’s left of us in exile
we are the plants of a broken vase
we are what we are, but who are we?
Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet
This story is as beautiful as the cover that contains it. I was spellbound by Alyan’s storytelling, moved by her use of language and engrossed by this family’s history. We follow four generations of a Palestinian family and see real world events through the lens of these characters’ experiences and what the au ...more
I loved the first three quarters of the book, but started to lose interest in the fourth generation of narrators. I put the book down for a while and then had a hard time reme ...more
If I showed you ‘Salt Houses’ and ...more
The novel started slowly for me -- I nearly didn't get past the first two chapters - ...more
This multigenerational family saga fol ...more
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Each chapter is titled with the name of one of the family, beginning with Salma, the mother of Alia, in Nablus, Palestine, the town she and her husband Hussam and their children fled to in 1948, following the Nakba (catastrophe). Ali ...more
I had so much trouble getting into this story. To begin with, my unfamiliarity with the character names became an obstacle. Then I also found myself not being able to find any real cohesion in the story until I got to about the fourth or fifth chapter. I restarted this book three times and also got the CD from the library in hopes of cementing, not only the character names, but a plot line in this novel.
I believe that I finally began to understand the story and was able to follow the ge ...more
This is a beautiful, melancholic half-century saga of a Palestinian family’s lives and losses. Strong female voices, anger, pain, displacement. It’s a really good read. Made me quite emotional.
Salt Houses: Nothing lasts. It all gets washed away.
The story is all about displacements, forced and voluntary.
The novel starts in Nablus, Palestine, in 1963, with Salma reading the future in a coffee cup on her daughter Alia’s wedding day. The family had relocated to Nablus from Jaffa, which became a part of the new-Israel, fifteen years ago.
Later Alia and her husband, Atef, move to Kuwait city and Salma to Jordan after the Six Day war in 1967. In 1990, Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait and the family is dispersed again. Alia ...more