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We Walked On


"The writing is beautiful, the characters draw us in, the political detail is interesting and works with the plot rather than functioning as a distraction, and the buildup of pacing and tension is done so assuredly. Chehade masterfully creates the sense of living with a civil war that uses a city as its battleground — how the violence becomes both terrifying and everyday, how life stops and starts, how enmities build, how the ordinary stuff of relationships and jobs continues but with everything coloured by war."

—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire, winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018


"WE WALKED ON is a treasure, a riveting testament, a powerful paean to longing and celebrating the tiny details and tendrils of life amidst the rubble and despair of war in Lebanon. Thérèse Soukar Chehade has crafted a mesmerizing tale of family, love, fear, and genuine hope despite the fever of 'animal terror,' where a brief snowfall invites dancing in the street, the vanished return in dreams, and books offer refuge from total annihilation. WE WALKED ON is a novel of rare talent and exquisite intimacy—a crucial, lyrical exploration of survival."

—Margot Douaihy, author of Scorched Grace, a New York Times Review of Books Editors' Choice


"If the title "Being There" were not already taken, it would have worked admirably for Thérèse Soukar Chehade's harrowing and poignant story of two people trapped in the Lebanese Civil War of the mid-1970s. In recounting the intertwined experiences of a 14-year-old girl named Rita and Hisham, the literature teacher who befriends her, Chehade immerses readers in a culture blown apart by sudden conflict, minutely recreating the surreal stretches of foreboding, violence and tedium that a city-turned-war-zone inflicts on its residents. How she turns words into Sensurround, allowing the rest of us to feel the bewildered horror and rare joys of these two people as if we shared skin and nervous systems with them, can only be called a tour de force of observation and empathy. What Chehade conveys about the pain of not belonging – whether as sensitive misfit or refugee – eliminates the barriers of time and nationality, directly connecting 1975 with today's widespread religious/political turmoil and masses of displaced persons for readers who are likely never to wonder again what the plight of immigrants could possibly have to do with them."

—Carolyn Jack, author of The Changing of Keys


"'The war engulfs and dwarfs everything,' writes Thérèse Chehade in We Walk On, her novel of two families disrupted by the Lebanese Civil War. In the same novel we read, 'War cannot break the dance of life.' These are the antipodal themes that We Walked On dramatizes so vividly. Essentially a war story, We Walk On forsakes sensational war story tropes in behalf of something more subtle: the quality of life ceaselessly moving forward even as bombs fall and bullets fly. Elsewhere in Chehade's novel we read, 'War was many things: animal terror, loss of control, and obsessive attention to daily details.' We Walk On illustrates, with singular authenticity, how the first two are made endurable by the third."

—Peter Selgin, author of Duplicity and The Inventors


"With an exceptional pen, Thérèse Soukar Chehade draws a tranquil, richly layered world that is destroyed by war. Chehade's heart-rending, beautiful prose propels the reader through the spectrum of emotion with unforgettable power. A poignant, beautifully written tale of tragedy, loss, and hope."

—Morgan Howell, author of The Moon Won't Talk