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House of Sand and Fog

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  127,107 ratings  ·  4,123 reviews
On a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force sees a way to restore his family's dignity in an attractive bungalow available on county auction. But the house's owner, a recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck, will fight for the one thing she has left. And her lover, a married cop, will be driven to extremes to win her love. In this maste ...more
Paperback, 365 pages
Published March 2000 by Vintage Contemporaries (first published 1999)
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Popular Answered Questions
P No. My first answer was simply No, but GRs told me it was too short; it remains my one-word answer, best because you asked for that with your binary q…moreNo. My first answer was simply No, but GRs told me it was too short; it remains my one-word answer, best because you asked for that with your binary question. Just to be sure: NO.(less)
Lila No. It switches from a few first person perspective and a third person one.

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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  127,107 ratings  ·  4,123 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 15, 2014 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
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus III

House of Sand and Fog is a 1999 novel by Andre Dubus III. It was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 2000, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, and was adapted into the 2003 film, House of Sand and Fog.

The novel begins by introducing Massoud Behrani, a former colonel exiled from Iran after the Iranian Revolution. Because his background is military rather than professional, he has not been able to establish a career in the US and works as a t
Jan 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We're all familiar with tragedies, aren't we? Most of us learned about them in school, through Shakespeare - possibly first with (my favourite) Macbeth. A guy with out of control ambition does unthinkable things to good people and the world swirls in demonic confusion until he is brought to his knees and destroyed. Damn. That gets my blood going.

But what about if people aren't bad. If they have no bad intentions? If they're just living their (tough) lives, guilty only of putting one foot in fron
Richard Derus
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: On a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force sees a way to restore his family's dignity in an attractive bungalow available on county auction. But the house's owner, a recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck, will fight for the one thing she has left. And her lover, a married cop, will be driven to extremes to win her love. In this masterpiece of American realism and Shakespearean consequence, Andre Dubus III's unforget
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shira Karp
Apr 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...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.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you, if you want a good story laced with inner thoughts
Shelves: fiction, mesmerizing
Humid days start off as cool mornings of mist. Depending on the lake's movement, fast or slow, one knows how the day will feel on the skin. And the sky above the ocean always speaks of rain or sun. These are only a few things I like about life on the Coast.

So imagine this house of sand and fog, a bungalow with a widow walk that looks out to the ocean; imagine a nice short jog to the beach, mornings and evenings covered in fog that protects and suffocates. Beach life is simple, yet chic. Casual,
Oct 23, 2008 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
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Cathy DuPont
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Emm C²
I have a flippant love-hate about Sand and Fog. I've redone this review in its entirety FOUR TIMES now. I hate the ending and last few chapters with a certain hellfire, but the rest of it is so beautiful - written is such intricate, sensitive detail that you can't possibly dislike it, even when the characters derail into illogical extremes. The last chapters, though... they'll kick your soul in the face. The ending is understandable, but why did it have to end like that?

The moral of this story
I definitely like House of Sand and Fog and I am glad to have read it, but.......

The book is set in the early 1980s. It focuses on three characters—an Iranian immigrant by the name of Massoud Amir Behrani, a wealthy, a high-standing Colonel in the Iranian Airforce under the Shah until his downfall, Kathy Nicolo, a reformed drug addict clearly still struggling with the demons of her addiction and the recent departure of a lover, and finally, Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon, equally messed up and hav
Feb 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Jim Fonseca
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-authors
A young woman in California has lost her husband and now her house. The husband took off after just a couple of years of marriage. She lost the house due to a bureaucratic snafu about over-due taxes. She really didn’t owe the taxes but she simply threw out mail without reading it, so now the house has been sold out from under her and auctioned off to an Iranian immigrant family. She can probably get it back but it will take years of litigation and lawyers she can’t afford on her salary from clea ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Greg Lerner
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.
Didn’t love the ending but the journey is very unique and messed up, just how I like my books!
Mary Gibbons
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Leanna Henderson
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Patricia Elizabeth
Aug 07, 2007 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
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Around the Year i...: House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III 1 26 Mar 21, 2016 06:14PM  
BYOW Book Club: January Selection 16 18 Feb 22, 2012 04:39PM  
BYOW Book Club: Discussion Question 4 5 38 Feb 13, 2012 05:05PM  
BYOW Book Club: Discussion Question 8 8 51 Feb 13, 2012 04:31PM  

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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

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