The Arsonists’ City is a moving multigenerational story about family, politics, secrets and love. It’s also a personal glimpse into the war in the Middle East and it’s impact on so many families. The Nasr family is scattered around the globe, mother and father, Mazna and Idris, are immigrants to America from Syria and Lebanon. Their three children are American but have lived a live of migration. After his father passes away, Idris decides that it’s some to sell their ancestral home in Beirut, which they’ve kept for all these year. Due to local law, the entire family must travel to Beirut to complete the sale, where the family unites against Idris in an attempt to keep the house. Being together raises all of their secrets to the surface in a city with more than it’s share of drama – religious and political protest, the ongoing legacy of war, refugees.
The story is told with a split timeline and the point of view alternating among the different characters. The characters are so richly developed and complex – the story is very driven by these remarkably deep characters. All of the different threads of their pasts and presents slowly intertwine in multifaceted layers to bring the family’s saga full circle. I especially enjoyed the cultural aspects of the book – learning about the different countries and a bit of their histories and traditions.