Tag Archives: Q&A

The Story of Displacement: Q&A with Hala Alyan

Salt Houses, Hala Alyan’s multigenerational first novel about a Palestinian family, is a richly layered story of devastation, rebuilding, and making your way home, when you’re not even sure where that is anymore. As a Jew who believes strongly in the importance of a Jewish homeland, I wanted to read Salt Houses for a different perspective—to hear the stories I might not have heard otherwise. I asked Alyan some questions about the book and our current sociopolitical climate.

Q: You’re Palestinian-American. How much of this story is drawn from your family history and how much is part of the larger cultural story?

A: I borrowed structural elements from my familial history, in terms of the countries that appear in the book and the way the family in Salt Houses is displaced more than once. I wanted to keep the focus on this one particular family’s story, while also nodding to the larger sociopolitical context that housed it. I was inspired by the tradition of storytelling in Arab communities, and how that is a way of reclaiming history and identity. More generally, I was inspired by the resilience of refugees and immigrants I’ve come across in my personal and professional life, and I wanted to honor the story of displacement by unpacking it as honestly as I could. Continue reading

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Did You Hear? Q & A

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

I haven’t heard anything this captivating in a long time.

This song is its own little 6-minute universe, self-contained and wholly complete. It feels sparse but not empty, with every small piece placed purposefully. Each new element feels like some new discovery, and when that fat round bass comes in (~1:30), oh man, forget about it. Do yourself a favor and sink into this one with a nice pair of headphones where you can hear the subtlety that makes this song incredible.

– Brook Reeder


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