We Walked On

Regal House Titles
$18.95 - $28.95
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Expected release date is 23rd Sep 2024

Set during Lebanon’s civil war, We Walked On immerses readers in the landscape of war, weaving political unrest into everyday life. With Rita, a fourteen-year-old girl, and Hisham, her thirty-year-old Arabic teacher, Chehade has created two richly drawn characters who counter violence with the redemptive power of books and human connection and find authentic hope in untenable circumstances. We Walked On is a timely novel about what it’s like to live in a war zone, how war corrupts our moral sense, and how to survive and endure in an unjust world.

Praise for We Walked On

“With beautiful writing, Chehade masterfully creates the sense of living with a civil war that uses a city as its battleground — how enmities build, how the violence becomes both terrifying and commonplace, how life stops and starts and the ordinary continues, but with everything coloured by war.”

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

“A moving book that details, with tenderness and intimacy, the lives fractured and uprooted by the Lebanese Civil War. Writing intelligently, Thérèse Soukar Chehade maps the ‘siphoning of the soul’ caused by religious and class divides fomented by colonial powers—divides that remain urgently relevant today—and the toll of these ruptures on those who survive. The story has a slow-burn quality that pulls the reader deep into the world of the boisterous, diverse communities of Beirut who grow and separate together, focusing especially on Rita, a convent student who, even in her youth, begins to yearn for the rebellious, fun-loving teenager that she once was, and Hisham, a teacher devoted to his students and family, who writes in stealth about the war. Most of all, We Walked On is an ode to those who anchor us in kindness in times of grief and irrecoverable loss: teachers, mentors, friends, and the writers who reignite in the consciousness of the living, who must now tell their own stories, true and fierce.”

—Uzma Aslam Khan, author of The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali, a New York Times’ pick for “Best Historical Fiction 2022” and winner of the 2023 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction

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 Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“With tremulously gorgeous prose and an unsparing yet compassionate gaze, Thérèse Soukar Chehade draws us deep into a dazzling world lost to war. The Beirut of these pages feels both shockingly immediate and achingly distant, and its denizens vibrate with aliveness. I sunk into this intricate novel, into its sumptuous pleasures and deep sorrows, and I was changed by it.”

—Debra Jo Immergut, author of You Again and The Captives

“With lush, atmospheric prose, Thérèse Soukar Chehade recreates a time of beauty before civil war and the bewilderment of the subsequent slide into chaos and devastation. Her sensitive and keen eye allows us to enter the scene and feel the simple pleasure of a paper cone of peanuts, the everyday vexations of family tensions, and then with a single deft image––a soldier goes by in an open car and you remember him chasing his little sister on the playground––to feel the impossibility of reconciling the past with the present. We Walked On finds the universal in the individual, gives us the aching beauty of everyday things, and an affecting reminder that a place is not lost that exists in memory.”

—Kate Southwood, author of Falling to Earth and Evensong

“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 Walked 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 Walked 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 Walked 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