Anthony Shadid on the meaning of house and home

Anthony Shadid a foreign correspondent for The New York Times who covered nearly two decades of Middle East turmoil, died on Feb. 16, 2012, apparently of an asthma attack, while on a reporting assignment in Syria. This past Sunday the NYT published an excerpt from Shadid’s now to be posthumously released, third book House of Stone.

In the excerpt he defines the personal meaning of home and the draw of his ancestral lands in Marjayoun, Lebanon. He also uses a Arabic word unfamiliar to me; bayt. He writes

In Arabic, the word “bayt” translates literally as house, but its connotations resonate beyond rooms and walls, summoning longings gathered about family and home. In the Middle East, bayt is sacred. Empires fall. Nations topple. Borders may shift. Old loyalties may dissolve or, without warning, be altered. Home, whether it be structure or familiar ground, is finally the identity that does not fade.


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