The winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize “about mothers and daughters, nation and exile, and the way forward with hope and pain . . . a masterpiece” (Tayari Jones, The Times).
A gut punch of a novel that asks us to consider: what do we pass on to our children? What do we owe those we love? And without roots, can you ever truly be free?
Nahid has six months left to live. Or so the doctors say. 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.
Here is an extraordinary story of exile, dislocation, and the emotional minefields between mothers and daughters; a story of love, guilt and dreams for a better future, vibrating with both sorrow and an unquenchable joie de vivre. With its startling honesty, dark wit, and irresistible momentum, What We Owe introduces a fierce and necessary new voice in international fiction.
“One of the best books I’ve read about the psychological horror of being from post-revolutionary Iran . . . Gorgeous and vital, this story will haunt its readers.”—Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, for The Rumpus
“Spare and devastating . . . Always arresting, never sentimental; gut-wrenching, though not without hope.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)