In his posthumous memoir, Anthony Shadid masterfully recounts an immigrant homecoming
House of Stone:
A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East
by Anthony Shadid
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade
$26.00 List Price
ANTHONY SHADID, the lead Middle East correspondent for the New York Times, died on February 16 at only forty-three, succumbing to an asthma attack as he snuck out of Syria while covering the popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Shadid, who had twice won the Pulitzer Prize, was universally acknowledged as the premier American reporter on the Middle East of his generation. He left behind an extraordinary body of work, culminating in the just-published House of Stone.
However, House of Stone is not a work of Middle East reportage; it is, rather, a memoir, devoted to Shadid’s deeply personal quest to uncover his heritage in war-torn Lebanon—and specifically in his ancestral town of Marjayoun, which his grandfather and grandmother, then neighbors but not relatives, both separately left in the early 1920s for the United States. Between the 2006 war pitting Hezbollah against Israel and the outbreak of a mini–civil war, mainly in Beirut, in 2008, Shadid took a year off from his then position at the Washington Post to rebuild his great-grandfather’s abandoned and dilapidated home in Marjayoun. Shadid describes the project as “a small odyssey,” a “meaningful search” for his family’s roots and a new sense of his own personal belonging in their land of origin. It’s clear from the outset that he anticipated discovery and reconnection as the outcomes of his building project, and as it unfolds, the completed project indeed grants Shadid a new sense of identity and purpose. The house, he writes, “makes a statement: Remember the past. Remember Marjayoun. Remember who you are