A Most Anticipated Title of 2021 from Buzzfeed, Refinery29, Lit Hub, The Millions, The Rumpus
, Write or Die Tribe,
and Palm Beach Daily News
A Most Anticipated Title of March by Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, and HelloGiggles
Named a Most Anticipated Title by a Woman of Color for 2021 by R.O. Kwon in Electric Literature
"Feels revolutionary in its freshness...The book has all the elements we expect from a family saga, but set against the backdrop of Lebanon’s long, sad history, the narrative stakes are so much higher."
“I didn’t think I could love The Arsonists’ City as much as Salt Houses, but I did. It was sharp, thought-provoking. I couldn’t put it down. Hala Alyan is a lyrical force, a much-needed Arab American voice.”
—Etaf Rum, New York Times best-selling author of A Woman Is No Man
“I don’t exactly understand how Hala Alyan does it—conjures love, sorrow, betrayal, and joy; goes from being funny and warm to incisive and thoughtful—but as a reader, I’m glad that she does. The Arsonists’ City delivers all the pleasures of a good old-fashioned saga but in Alyan’s hands, one family’s tale becomes the story of a nation—Lebanon and Syria, yes, but also the United States. It’s the kind of book we are lucky to have.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
"A profound inquiry into what it means to be a family, determine your identity, and hold onto a home — particularly in a world that doesn't always weigh equally the importance of everyone's home, identity, and family...Alyan is virtuosic at portraying the complicated bonds that exist between family members, and she is unafraid to show both the beauty and the despair that come with true intimacy, love, and loss."
"Alyan’s varied talents never cease to amaze."
"Alyan, author of the award-winning Salt Houses, has written another family saga studded with the same beautiful lyricism...Makes for great fiction."
"Alyan, who is a family therapist as well as a poet and novelist, has a gift for depicting the knotty, messy but ultimately resilient bonds of family love. Though The Arsonists’ City lays bare how civil war and brutal violence impact a single family, it is the everyday, sometimes petty squabbles between husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child that make this novel both memorable and relatable."
"This multi-generational story is deeply thought-provoking."
“No one knows the human heart like Hala Alyan. Her ability to show its unexpected contours is on full display in The Arsonists' City—a book so gorgeously written I found myself reading sentences aloud just to keep them with me a little longer."
—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk and The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
“Faced with the impending sale of their ancestral home in Beirut, the delightfully flawed members of the Nasr family must confront their late-onset nostalgia just as the secrets they’ve kept buried from each other are surfacing to air. An irresistible heart-tugger as complex and sensual as Lebanon itself.”
—Courtney Maum, author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without YouandCostalegre
"Intricately plotted, Arsonists’ City is a novel that renders custom and place in very precise detail...Arsonists’ City contains pleasing revelations as the story progresses. Mazna is a complex and rewarding character."
—Publishers Weekly, author profile
"Exquisite...Tenderly and compassionately told, and populated with complicated and flawed characters, the Nasrs’ story interrogates nostalgia, memory, and the morality of keeping secrets against the backdrop of a landscape and a people in constant flux. Alyan’s debut was striking, and this one’s even better."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Riveting...Alyan is masterful at clarifying the complicated sociopolitical realities surrounding Lebanon's and Syria’s intertwined histories in terms of class, caste, colonialism, and tribalism. But even more masterful here...is her laserlike focus on her multifaceted characters in big and small moments that come together to create a singular family.
Painful and joyous, sad and funny—impossible to put down."
—Kirkus, starred review