House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East

Anthony Shadid. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-547-13466-6
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Shadid—a New York Times correspondent, Pulitzer Prize winner, and grandson of immigrants— took a leave of absence to renovate his ancestral home in Lebanon. Shadid’s “quixotic mission” was a search for identity. His great-grandfather left the house to his family to “join us with the past, to sustain us.” Shadid went in search of that past, claiming, “I understood questions of identity, how being torn in two often leaves something less than one.” He writes sentimentally of Lebanon, but his confession that the house was “memories of what I had imagined over many years” reveal a constructed emotion. The sentimentality sometimes borders on maudlin, and his identity quest is often lost among mundane construction details. Shadid claims to understand the “desire of those whose place had been taken away.” He is presumably referring to his divorce, but his home renovation doesn’t convince as healing process. History buffs, however, will appreciate the family and Middle Eastern historical asides. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 03/27/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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