Book Review, Online Magazine

A New Voice In Fiction

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“Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan gives evocative glimpses of a fictional family.


Laced with poetic language and poignant instances of life, “Salt Houses” by Palestinian-American author Hala Alyan does great service to the contemporary narrative of displaced families and the notion of belonging. As beautiful inside as it is on the outside, this book became a well that I dipped into for warmth, despite its themes of death, separation and displacement due to war.

“Salt Houses” follows several generations of the Yacoub family; we first meet Salma who is living in Nablus of the late ‘70s and end with the perspective of Manar, Salma’s great granddaughter who is visiting Jaffa in 2014 to reconnect with her family’s history and heritage. In between the reader becomes intimate with the rest of the Yacoubs and the key moments in their life that define them. It’s a generational story that’s easy to get lost in because the love, loss and hope felt by the characters is all too real. When you filter out the socio-political conditions you’re left with raw human emotions that we all taste in some way or another.

Cherishing family above all else is a dominant theme in the novel. Because of war and the resulting ripples, the characters are often faced with situations that make them stand back and appreciate the family they have left, while remembering those they lost. Like all great literary stories, this one houses a secret too – a bundle of letters that were never sent. This is a book that will challenge you as a reader and also give you a story to remember.

Available on Book Depository for SR 60.alyan_hala_credit-beowulf-sheehan_wide-02f95495034fbd773994dcc78933e94578fc6203

Survival Guide: Bookish Lingo

Being a bookworm comes with a special dictionary.

These terms make complete sense amongst bookworms, but usually sound like gibberish to outsiders. If you’re going to be reading books and talking about them, you’ll need to speak like a bookworm.

  1. TBR: The endless stack of books that are “To Be Read.”
  2. DNF: Sometimes you just have to “DNF” a book (Did Not Finish).
  3. Fangirl: When you love a character or book so much you become its “fangirl” or “fanboy.” It’s the ultimate declaration of bookish love.
  4. Book Haul: Book hauls are our guilty pleasures in the bookish world. We all have books we need to read but we always end up “hauling” more than we can ever read.
  5. Reading Slump: The affliction every reader dreads. Reading slumps take away the motivation, so affected bookworms fall into the rut of not reading and not knowing what to do about it.
  6. Potterhead: Used to describe a real Harry Potter fan who has reread the books and is forever waiting for their letter.
  7. House Pride: If you’re a Potterhead, this term is an essential. House Pride refers to feeling kinship with your fellow Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin pals.
  8. Bookdragon: It’s what we call ourselves when we’re fierce about our love for books. Are you a bookdragon or a bookworm?
  9. Binge-Read: Some days are better for reading than others. When we binge-read we do it endlessly and sometimes finish several books in one day!
  10. Bookshelfie: It’s way better than selfies, it captures the state of our beloved bookshelves.
  11. ARC: Receiving an arc is a privilege in the bookish world. Arcs are “Advance Reading Copies;” the uncorrected version of books before they get published.

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