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Hala Alyan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Salt Houses (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Arsonists' City (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Publication Order of Collections

Atrium (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hijra (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Twenty-Ninth Year (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Moon That Turns You Back (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Halal If You Hear Me(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shorts, Volume One(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Hala Alyan
Hala Alyan was born in Carbondale, Illinois on July 27, 1986. Her family lived in Kuwait after she was born but sought political asylum in the United States when Iraqi forces invaded the country.

Hala got her doctorate in clinical psychology at Rutgers and works part time in the Counseling and Wellness Center at New York University.

She is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist. Hala’s work has been published by The Missouri Review, the Academy of American Poets, The New York Times Book Review, Colorado Review, the New Yorker, LitHub, Prairie Schooner, and Guernica.

“Salt Houses” won the Arab American Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an award given to authors whose work is believed to promote piece. It was also a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize. “Atrium”, a poetry collection, was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry. “Hijra” was selected as a winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry in 2015. In the fall of 2018, she was a visiting fellow at the American Library in Paris.

“Hijra” is a collection of poetry that was released in 2016. Hala creates poems about flight and migration reflecting and bearing witness to the haunting particulars in her transnational journey and those of her mom, aunts, and all the female ancestors in Syria and Gaza.

The reader sees immigration, war, and diaspora, and hears about marginalized voices of women of color. The poems use striking imagery and lyrical diction to evoke the full weight of a visceral and emotional journey. They build and grow in form and length, reflecting the gains the women in poems make in recreating selfhood through strength and endurance.

In narrative, prose, and confessional-style poems, she reflects on how physical space is transmitted, refashioned, and remembered. Her voice is fresh, welcoming, distinct, and relevant.

“Salt Houses” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2017. Salma, on the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees this unsettled life for Alia and her kids, but she also sees luck and travel. As she decides to keep her predictions to herself that day, they’ll all soon come to pass once the family gets uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.

Alia’s brother gets hooked into this politically militarized world that he cannot escape from, Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus, and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they hesitantly build a new life with their three kids. Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family yet again lose their land, their home, and their story as they knew it, scattering to Paris, Beirut, and Boston, as well as beyond. Before long, Alia’s kids start families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities.

This is a remarkable debut which humanizes and challenges the age old conflict we may think we comprehend. One which asks us to confront the most devastating of all truths: you cannot go back home again.

Alayan is a master, delivering a novel that is beautifully written and moving. Readers found this to be sprawling and gorgeous while it illustrates the inherited longing and sense of dislocation passed down like a baton from mom to daughter. The book is lyrical, heart wrenching, and timely.

“The Twenty-Ninth Year” is a collection of poetry that was released in 2019. In Western and Islamic tradition, age twenty-nine is a year of transformation and upheaval, a milestone.

For Hala, this is a year in which the past (memories of old friends, family members, and past lovers), the heat of another land, a different faith, and another language, winds itself all around the present. Her ever shifting and subversive verse sifts together and through different forms of forced displacement and the tolls that they end up taking on the body and mind.

Poems leap out of war torn cities in the Middle East, to an Olive Garden in Oklahoma, a Brooklyn Brownstone, from alcoholism to recovery, from a single woman to a wife. It’s a collection that summons breathtaking chaos, one which seeps into the bones of these odes, the shape of these elegies.

This is a vivid catalog of joy, loneliness, trauma, and heartache, and is an education in looking for home and self in the space between disparate identities.

“The Arsonists’ City” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2021. A rich family story, an indelible rendering of how we hold onto the people and places that we call home, and a personal look at the legacy of war in the Middle East.

The Nasr family is spread all around the globe: Brooklyn, Beirut, Austin, and the California desert. A Lebanese dad, a Syrian mom, and three American kids: each of which have lived a life of migration. Still, they have always had their ancestral home in Beirut, which is a cultural touchstone, and the complex, messy family love which binds them all. However following his dad’s recent death, Idris, who is the family’s new patriarch, has decided to sell.

The choice brings the family to Beirut, where everybody unites against Idris in a battle to save the house. They each have their secrets: abandoned passions, bitter jealousies, lost loves, deep-set shame, which distance has just helped to smother. However in a city smoldering with the legacy of war, one ongoing flow of refugees, religious tensions, and political protest, these secrets ignite, imperiling the fragile ties which keep this family together.

In a novel teeming with warmth, wisdom, and characters born of remarkable human insight, Hala Alyan shows us yet again that fiction is often the very best filter for the real world around us. It delivers all of the pleasures of a good old fashioned saga, however in her hands, one family’s story becomes the story of an entire nation: Syria and Lebanon, sure, but the United States, too. It is the sort of novel that we are lucky to get.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Hala Alyan

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