Author: Igal Sarna
Extent: 336 pp
Publication: April 2022
Publisher: Signal Books
A House in the Alto Minho, Portugal
A traveller from another continent crosses the Minho River from Spain for the first time and arrives in northern Portugal. Enchanted by the Alto Minho region, he determines to make a home for himself there. Aged sixty-five, with a long career as a journalist in war-torn Israel and having recently lost a bitter legal battle with Prime Minister Netanyahu, he finds sanctuary on the edge of Europe, where a river meets the Atlantic.
Igal Sarna buys a dilapidated village house and with a local architect and craftsmen begins renovations. Months of tribulations are interspersed with the joy of transforming a near ruin, with its overgrown land and cowshed, into a comfortable home. He makes friends along the way and is readily accepted as an exile by a kind and generous cast of neighbours and fellow foreigners.
Spurred on by journalistic instinct, meanwhile, he begins to explore the history of both house and region, untangling the intrigues behind his new home and his adopted community. In a country still marked by Salazar’s dictatorship, poverty and migration, tragic stories persist. Sarna searches for answers in the haunted rooms of abandoned houses and palaces, uncovering local family secrets and the dark legacy left by outsiders: the abandoned ashram of criminal Baba Shanti, and the deserted home of a troubled Danish artist whose disappearance remains a mystery.
The Stranger’s Homecoming is a love story to Portugal, but also a poignant tale of exile. It tells of a man creating a new home in a foreign land; who feels that, even late in life, he can still start again and return to the old continent his parents fled over eighty-five years before.