House of Sand and Fog

Title: House of Sand and Fog
Author: Andre Dubus III
Pub Date: 1999
Pages: 365
Genre: Literary Fiction

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. This novel has left such an impression that it sent me into this morose funk after closing the book. I found myself watching these individual lives traveling at a warp speed toward each other, a head on collision of prejudice, judgement, and consequences none could possibly fathom. I chewed on my lip. At times I pushed the book aside, no longer being able to read further because I had emotionally enmeshed myself into these characters souls. And yet, after distraction failed, half reluctantly and half rabidly picking the book up again, racing through pages hoping that there would be a silver lining.

House of Sand and Fog came into my house by mistake. And by that, I mean, it came into my hands with the misconception of being a horror novel. I had a vague recollection of a haunting movie poster with Jennifer Connelly, so when I came across the book (used) and it equally had a spooky cover, I purchased it. It was not until I got home that I read the back only to realize that it was hardly what I expected. So it sat upon my shelves for a year. I finally picked it up and devoured it in a mere couple of days.

The plot is rather simple and although the impetus for bringing the characters together, hardly the reason for reading. Kathy Nicola finds out that the county has evicted her from her home and auctioned off her house over an unpaid tax. Colonel Behrani, an Iranian who has taken asylum in the states, purchases the house at a ridiculously low sum. Homeless and with the help of leal aide and a kind officer, Lester, Kathy finds out that the county made a mistake and tries to regain the title of her home. However, unable to disappoint his family, Colonel Behrani is not about to resell less than market value.

You see? The plot, kind of eh, right? I know. Which caused my reluctance to pick up the book. The richness, however, is in the descriptions, it's in the detail of differences between customs in America and the Middle East. I found myself infuriated with both Kathy and Behrani but for different reasons. I also equally empathized with them as the individuals molded by their traditions and perceptions. House of Sand and Fog weighed me down, but ultimately I feel a better person for having read it.

This is a perfect book club read if you're a part of one. (Once again, can I stress how I am envious of all of you bloggers out there who have monthly gatherings geared toward the discussion of books). I promise you, you will have endless hours of discussion with this one.


  1. I've heard mixed reviews about this, but I'm more excited about this now. Thanks!

  2. I thought it was horror too by the cover. I do love a good book that causes such debates though.

  3. I've really been wanting to read this book...but man, I was totally off-base as to what it was about, too! Oh well, I still think it sounds pretty good. Thanks for the great review...and for clearing up my misperceptions. ;)

  4. I also LOVED this one. I actually want to reread it, because it was such a quietly amazing book that I would like to know if it carries the same emotional impact the 2nd time around. Great review!

  5. I read this a few years ago and LOVED it. Definately one that sticks with you.

  6. Yup--wow is right. I read this one several years ago and it's in the "would love to read it again one day if I could only get to all these others first" pile. Plot may be "eh" but the writing was so great.

  7. Did you find it slow at all, especially at the beginning? I snagged a copy at a church bizarre years ago, and when I finally tried to read it, I couldn't get past the first 50 pages.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, though.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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