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Invite an Author

Every month, we highlight an author in an initiative called "BCCLS Invite an Author". Many of these authors are happy to visit BCCLS libraries to chat with your book clubs or present programs either in person or via Skype. You can email them directly for more information or to schedule a library visit.

Previous Authors

May 2017

Hala Alyan

Photo © Beowulf Sheehan.


Hala Alyan


    halyan727 @



Letter of Introduction:

Dear Colleagues:

I can’t think of a more perfect author to share with you in times that for many are dark and uncertain. I am so thrilled to present Hala Alyan as BCCLS Invite an Author for May 2017.

Hala Alyan is an award-winning Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in numerous journals including The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner and Colorado Review. She resides in Brooklyn with her husband.

Her poetry collection, Atrium, was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry, while her latest collection, Hijira, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and published by Southern Illinois University Press.

Her debut novel, Salt Houses, published in May 2017 has received some pretty great reviews.

On Salt Houses:

"Verdict: This timely historical does for the Palestinians what Khaled Hosseini did for the people of Afghanistan. By placing readers inside the hearts and minds of one Arab family scattered from Paris to Boston to Lebanon, she beautifully illustrates the resilience of the human spirit."

Library Journal

"Salt Houses illuminates the heartache and permanent unsettledness experienced by refugees all over the world, reminding readers of the burdens and the blessings of home.", "15 New Authors You’re Going To Be Obsessed With This Year"

"It's not always easy to follow Alyan's complex geographic and emotional mapping, but this journey is well worth taking. A deeply moving look inside the Palestinian diaspora."

Kirkus Review

"The war may have only lasted six days, but its impact echoes through generations of a Palestinian family in this ambitious debut novel...This is a moving story about a family's battle to salvage what remains when their home is taken away."


"Alyan blends joy with pain, frustration with elation, longing with boredom in this beautiful debut novel filled with the panoply of life. The frontispiece tells the whole story in microcosm with a family tree of the Palestinian Yacoub family, who, for most of the book, no longer lives in Palestine...These lives full of promise and loss will feel familiar to any reader; Alyan's excellent storytelling and deft handling of the complex relationships ensures that readers will not soon forget the Yacoub family."

Publishers Weekly

Pretty good, huh? Reviews a novelist can only dream of, especially for a debut novel.

Just imagine the conversations your readers would have discussing Salt Houses! We are all from someplace else, after all. And with the news, well, you get it.

You can visit her website at:

Take a look at Hala’s TEDx Talk here:

Be sure to take a look at Hala's page on BCCLS Discover!

I hope many of you will invite Hala to your libraries either via Skype or in person. You can contact her directly at: halyan727 @ She’s lovely, and wonderful, and smart, and a future literary superstar.

Warmest regards,





What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?

I’m finally reading “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell (I’ve been meaning to get to it for ages) and “At Night We Walk in Circles” by Daniel Alarcón is up next.


Where do you go to get inspired?

For whatever reason, airports always make me want to write.


What’s something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?

Being asked to write a letter of recommendation by a writer I hugely admire.


Where do you write?

Everywhere: my office, on the rug in my living room, subways, in the park.


What/who makes you laugh? Why?

When children curse. I know I shouldn’t laugh, because it’s reinforcing that behavior, but the younger they are, the more I can’t help it.


Favorite fictional character ever.

The Little Prince.


What do you want readers to know about you and your books?

That I love nothing more on this planet than writing a story, even when the process is making me miserable.


What are you working on?

A new novel about a family that travels to Beirut to sell their ancestral home.