"Six pages into this book, I said to myself, if Anthony Shadid continues like this, this book will be a classic. And page by page, he did continue, and he wrote a honest-to-God, hands-down, undeniable and instant classic. This is a book about war, and terrible loss, and a troubled region, and his own tattered family history, yes, but it’s written with the kind of levity and candor and lyricism we associate with, say, Junot Diaz — and that makes the book, improbably, both a compulsive read and one you don’t want to end. I have no idea how Shadid pulled all this off while talking about the history of modern Lebanon, how he balanced ribald humor and great warmth with the sorrow woven into a story like this, but anyway, we should all be grateful that he did."
— Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun and What Is the What
"Anthony Shadid’s beautifully rendered memoir is a rich account of a man’s gradual immersion into the world of the Middle East and the culture of the Levant, a kingdom almost unrecognizable today, where the rooms and hallways of his great-grandfather’s house tell stories that will linger with every reader for decades."
— André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt
"House of Stone is poignant, aching, and at times laugh-out-loud funny . . . Shadid's writing is so lyrical it's like hearing a song."
— David Finkel, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good Soldier
"House of Stone is a haunting, beautifully realized piece of writing."
— Nick Flynn, author of The Ticking Is the Bomb
"What a beautiful introduction to a world that I knew so little about. House of Stone is engaging, poignant, and funny."
— Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
"I was captivated, instantly, by Anthony Shadid's lushly evocative prose. Crumbling Ottoman outposts, doomed pashas, and roving bandits feel immediate, familiar, and relevant. Lose yourself in these pages, where empires linger, grandparents wander, and a battered Lebanon beckons us home. Savor it all. If Márquez had explored nonfiction, Macondo would feel as real as Marjayoun."
— Dave Cullen, author of Columbine
"Evocative and beautifully written, House of Stone . . . should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the agonies and hopes of the Middle East."
— Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate
"In rebuilding his family home in southern Lebanon, Shadid commits an extraordinarily generous act of restoration for his wounded land, and for us all."
— Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey
"Few books provide such a subtle, yet powerful insight into the tragedy of today’s Middle East."
— Amin Maalouf, author of Origins: A Memoir
"A riveting, soulful, and candid journey . . ."
— Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah
A nostalgic, bittersweet journey back to the Lebanese homestead. As a war correspondent for the Washington Post covering the Israeli attack in Lebanon in 2006, Pulitzer winner Shadid (Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War, 2005, etc.), the child of Lebanese Americans who grew up in America, painfully encountered the home of his Lebanese ancestors in the town of Marjayoun. It was a once-fine house that had been long abandoned and was hit by an Israeli rocket. The author then resolved to take a furlough from his newspaper and reconstruct the house, which had belonged to his great-grandfather and where his grandmother had spent her first 12 years before the family migrated to America. Shadid traces the two sides of his family that converged at the end of the 19th century in Marjayoun, the Samaras and the Shadids, whose subsequent migrations reflect the strife among the Syrian Lebanese Shiite community with the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Suffering from his own divorce and separation from his small daughter, Shadid was often overcome by the "history of departures" witnessed by the house, the ruptures caused by loss and discord among the community of Christians, Muslims and Jews, and the tightly knit customs and rituals that kept things running. Shadid's year became occupied with finding permission to build, securing willing contractors and artisans and befriending sympathetic characters among the often hostile, suspicious townspeople. Much of the narrative is a gentle unfolding of observation and insight, as the author reacquaints himself with the Arabic rhythms, "absorbing beauties, and documenting what was no more." A complicated, elegiac, beautiful attempt to reconcile the physical bayt (home) and the spiritual.