Monday, March 8, 2010

REVIEW: The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

This book tells the story of Kathy Niccolo, who is evicted from her home on a technical error, which is then put up for auction. She is reeling from her husband's recent departure, and trying to pick up the pieces when everything gets thrown out the window. It also tells the story of the Behrani family, driven from their home when the Persian empire fell and fled to the United States. For years they have seen their funds deplete, and when Mr. Behrani sees a bungalow up for auction and going for cheap, he snatches it up in the hopes that this will be his opportunity for a better life-to start again. Both Kathy and Behrani have pinned their dreams and their hopes on this one house, and neither want to let go in submission to the other. It represents too much on either side. What will be the thing that tips the scale? Enter Kathy's married boyfriend, Deputy Sherrif Lester Burdon. He will become more and more involved in this issue of 'injustice' in an effort to get Kathy back what, in his opinion, is rightfully hers. But who is really right here? Who is the good guy, and who is the victim?

This was an extremely well written book, and I was prepared for it not to be happy. But the relentless downward spiral of all the characters was very engrossing, and I found it really interesting that I was able to sympathize with all sides of the argument. My heart was torn in every direction from start to finish, and I did cry at the end. Highly recommended!

My Rating: 5 big stars

Other books to consider: East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

A bit about the author: Dubus is an American writer whose novel House of Sand and Fog was a National Book Award finalist in 1999 and was adapted for a 2003 film of the same title. His other books include the 1989 collection The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, the 1993 novel Bluesman, and the 2008 novel The Garden of Last Days. Dubus's work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and the 1985 National Magazine Award for Fiction. It has also been included in "The One Hundred Most Distinguished Stories of 1993" and The Best American Short Stories of 1994. He was one of three finalists for the 1994 Prix de Rome given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His father was a well known writer of short stories and novellas, and his cousin is the mystery writer James Lee Burke.

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