December 31, 2021

Looking Back - House of Sand and Fog

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

2000 Vintage Books (first published in 1999)
Read in December 2000
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

On a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force sees a way to restore his family's dignity in an attractive bungalow available on county auction. But the house's owner, a recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck, will fight for the one thing she has left. And her lover, a married cop, will be driven to extremes to win her love. In this masterpiece of American realism and Shakespearean consequence, Andre Dubus III's unforgettable characters careen toward inevitable conflict, their tragedy painting a shockingly true picture of the country we live in today.

In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a wealthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young woman whose house is all she has left, and who refuses to let her hard-won stability slip away from her. Sheriff Lester Burdon, a married man who finds himself falling in love with Kathy, becomes obsessed with helping her fight for justice.

Drawn by their competing desires to the same small house in the California hills and doomed by their tragic inability to understand one another, the three converge in an explosive collision course. Combining unadorned realism with profound empathy, House of Sand and Fog marks the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Very good novel! Intense and difficult to keep reading at times, but well done. Interesting conflict with both sides understandable. Suspenseful, especially the last hundred pages. Unpredictable. I felt more sympathetic toward Kathy than the Colonel and his family. He seemed so selfish and unbending. Dubus is a great storyteller.

My Current Thoughts:

I remember really enjoying this thought-provoking novel. I also watched the movie (starring Ben Kingsley), which was very good, as well. At some point, I must have decided it wasn't a book that I wanted to read again, as I no longer own a copy. 


  1. Loved the book and the movie, even though they are both quite dark.

    1. Diane, I'm tempted to reread the book, maybe on audio.

  2. Yeah I liked the book & movie too. Very intense! But I'm not sure I could read it again ... quite uncomfortable what the characters go through.

    1. Susan, as I recall it was intense, wasn't it? I wonder what his other books are like.

  3. Oh this book brings back memories. I think I didn't like it at the time, but I bet if I read it now, I'd feel differently. There's something about it that makes me think I would appreciate it more now.

    1. Helen, I'm a little curious about rereading this one, but I have so many other books to read!


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