Winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, What We Owe follows Nahid, who has six months left to live. At fifty, she is no stranger to loss. But now, as she stands on the precipice of her own death—just as she has learned that her daughter Aram is pregnant with her first child—Nahid is filled with both new fury and long dormant rage. Her life back home in Iran, and living as a refugee in Sweden, has been about survival at any cost. How to actually live, she doesn’t know; she has never had the ability or opportunity to learn.
The unapologetic acknowledgment of Nahid’s anger feels authentic, and the intensity of her character is magnetic and fully captures the reader’s attention ... Bonde demonstrates great deftness in her depiction of the turns of events both during Iran’s revolution and in the struggles the refugee family faces in Sweden, but she absolutely shines in her remarkable characterizations ... a must-read.
Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde depicts a haunting and emotional tale of survival, of what it means to be a refugee ... Through language that is practically poetic, Bonde constructs a story that reads like a love letter from mother to daughter ... What We Owe taps into a reader’s emotions and allows them to empathize with Nahid. One cannot help feeling her pain, her estrangement and desperation, and finally her peace.
...spare and devastating ... Translated—gorgeously and simply—by Wessel, Nahid's sentences are short and thrillingly brutal, and the result is exhilarating ... a startling meditation on death, national identity, and motherhood ... Always arresting, never sentimental; gut-wrenching, though not without hope.