From that heart wrenching, empathetic prologue, "The Arsonists' City" becomes a masterfully done family saga about the secrets people keep from their loved ones and healing frayed familial bonds. There's also some social commentary on America, there's sex and infidelity galore, there's music, there's betrayal, there's the love, fleeting and not so fleeting, unconditional and not... There's the backdrop of the Lebanese civil war that has a lasting effect on the country and its people and their descendants that echos even years after it ended. Characters provide more background information in the story for readers (like me) who have little knowledge of the war... The part where Mazna is talking with her theater director and other actors provided decent enough context for me.
I have very few complaints. Mazna and Najla were my favorite characters, so I personally wish more of the story was focused on them, rather than have it be split equally between them and the others. Accordingly, I didn't like the sections with the others as much. Like Mimi. He's a fallible human...and relatable, to an extent, but honestly pretty unlikable. It took me until the very end to warm up to him. Idris as well. I thought him irredeemable for [spoilers]... but the scene at the end softened me.
Will probably read "Salt Houses" in the future, and definitely "The Twenty-Ninth Year." It was no surprise to me that Alyan is also a poet.
*I read this via NetGalley