Sunday, April 21, 2024

Pg. 69: Helen Benedict's "The Good Deed"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Good Deed by Helen Benedict.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set in 2018 against the ironic backdrop of an overcrowded, fetid refugee camp on the beautiful, Homeric island of Samos in Greece, The Good Deed follows the stories of five women: Amina, who is nineteen and has just been released from one of Bashar al-Assad's secret and torture-ridden prisons in Syria; Leila, a Syrian widow with two little sons, who has lost her daughter and granddaughter to smugglers on a Turkish beach; Nafisa, who survived civil war and gang rape in Sudan only to see her entire family murdered, save for one daughter; Farah, Leila's lost daughter; and finally, an American named Hilma, who came from New York to Samos to escape her own dark secret, only to become entangled in conflict with the very people she wishes to help.

Drawing from four years of interviews with refugees on Samos, along with twelve previous years of work on the Iraq War, Benedict has written The Good Deed as a series of lyrical, intensely felt alternating voices, following these women’s everyday lives in the camp, as well each of their backstories—stories of families, love, secrets, violence, war, and flight. When Hilma, the American, unwittingly does a “good deed,” she triggers a crisis that brings her and the refugee women into a conflict that escalates dramatically as each character struggles for what she needs.

In essence, The Good Deed is about the struggle never to lose hope, even in the face of war and the world’s hostility to refugees; the complexities that arise out of trying to help others; the healing power of friendship; and the everlasting bonds between mothers and children.
Learn more about Helen Benedict and her work.

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The Page 69 Test: The Good Deed.

--Marshal Zeringue