House of Sand and Fog
|Author:||Andre Dubus III|
|Publisher:||W.W. Norton & Company|
Tense with suspense from the first line, this is one of the great American realist novels. In this page-turning, breathtaking novel, the characters will walk off the page and into your life. And a small house will seem like the most important piece of territory in the world. On a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force under the Shah yearns to restore his family’s dignity. When an attractive bungalow comes available on county auction for a fraction of its value, he sees a great opportunity for himself, his wife, and his children. But the house’s former owner, a recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck, doesn’t see it that way, nor does her lover, a married cop driven to extremes to win her love and get her house back. House of Sand and Fog is a narrative triumph in which a traditional immigrant success story and a modern love story are turned upside down with brutal, heartrending consequences. It is an American tragedy, and a shockingly true picture of the country we live in today.
Andre Dubus III wastes no time in capturing the dark side of the immigrant experience in America at the end of the 20th century. House of Sand and Fog opens with a highway crew composed of several nationalities picking up litter on a hot California summer day. Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military under the Shah, reflects on his job-search efforts since arriving in the U.S. four years before: “I have spent hundreds of dollars copying my credentials; I have worn my French suits and my Italian shoes to hand-deliver my qualifications; I have waited and then called back after the correct waiting time; but there is nothing.” The father of two, Behrani has spent most of the money he brought with him from Iran on an apartment and furnishings that are too expensive, desperately trying to keep up appearances in order to enhance his daughter’s chances of making a good marriage. Now the daughter is married, and on impulse he sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, thus unwittingly putting himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster. The house, it seems, once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic who wants it back. What starts out as a legal tussle soon escalates into a personal confrontation—with dire results.
Dubus tells his tragic tale from the viewpoints of the two main adversaries, Behrani and Kathy. To both of them, the house represents something more than just a place to live. For the colonel, it is a foot in the door of the American dream; for Kathy, a reminder of a kinder, gentler past. In prose that is simple yet evocative, House of Sand and Fog builds to its inevitable denouement, one that is painfully dark but unfailingly honest. —Alix Wilber
A California real estate dispute may hardly seem the foundation for riveting drama, but in director Vadim Perelman’s adaptation of Andre Dubus II’s novel it becomes an unflinching, yet crucially non-judgmental study of disparate characters caught up in a spiraling conflict where home is considerably more than a place to live. Composer James Horner takes the medium-budget project as an opportunity to break with much of the melodic expectations of his Hollywood fare, coloring the film’s more personally-scaled drama with an introspective score that turns on…
Academy Award winners Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) and Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) deliver stunning performances as two strangers whose conflicting pursuits of the American Dream lead to a fight for their hopes at any cost. What begins as a struggle over a rundown bungalow spirals into a clash that propels everyone involved toward a shocking resolution. “The surprise ending will leave you breathless!” (Clay Smith, Access Hollywood)