"As a blizzard blankets the northeast United States, burying residents and shutting down airports, the Zaydan family eagerly awaits the arrival of Eva, a cousin visiting from Lebanon after a long separation from the family. Over the course of one day, while Eva is stranded in New York City, Chehade’s nuanced story unfolds in the reminiscences and anxieties of each family member.
Emilie, the matriarch of this Lebanese American family, lives in a world of voluntary silence. Barely able to read and write in English and refusing to speak for the last several years, she immerses herself in her garden and leaves elaborately cooked meals anonymously for her solitary neighbor. Emilie’s oldest daughter Josephine, middle aged and still living with her mother and married brother, struggles to gain her independence and prepare for the arrival of her cousin, whose impending visit has reawakened conflicting emotions. Young Marie, Emilie’s granddaughter, is stifled by her conservative family and determined to study at Berkeley and to leave behind her immigrant identity. All three are drawn to their mysterious neighbor, nicknamed Loom, whose loneliness and isolation mirror their own and kindle within each woman a desire to make a connection. When Emilie takes off during the blizzard in the direction of Loom’s house and the rest of the family follows her, their act is both an escape and a reaching out. Beautifully written and alive with vivid portraits, Chehade's novel is both heartfelt and wise."
Syracuse Univesity Press
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The novel tells the stories of Hisham, a thirty-year-old Arabic teacher, and Rita, his bookish fourteen-year-old student, as their lives spiral out of control following the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in April 1975. As this timeline reveals, I, as these characters, have spent a lifetime reckoning with the long-term effects of having grown up in the violence of that era. I wanted to write not only a novel of the dead but one that instead dwells in the art-making, life-clinging impulse, and the complicated machinations of human survival.
Learn more about We Walked On >>