Join Octopus Books for the launch of We Meant Well, a new novel by Erum Shazia Hasan. Erum will be joined in conversation by Ottawa author Mary-Lou Zeitoun.
Date: Thursday June 8, 7pm-8pm
Location: Octopus Books, 116 Third Ave., Ottawa
Purchase We Meant Well
It’s the middle of the night in Los Angeles when Maya, a married mother of one, receives the phone call. Her colleague Marc has been accused of assaulting a local girl in Likanni, where they operate a charitable orphanage. Can she get on the next flight?
When Maya arrives, protesters surround the compound. The accuser is Lele, her former protégé and the chief’s daughter. There are no witnesses, no proof of any crime.
What happened that night? And what will happen to the orphanage if this becomes a scandal? Caught between Marc and Lele, the charity and the villagers, her marriage and new temptations, and between worlds, Maya lives the secret contradictions of the aid worker: there to serve the most deprived, but ultimately there to govern.
As Maya feels the pleasures, freedoms, and humanity of life in Likanni, she recognizes that her American life is inextricably woven into this violent reality — and that dishonesty in one place affects the realities in another.
“Unsparing and compassionate...A novel of harrowing eloquence, We Meant Well explores compelling cultural contrasts and the ambiguity of charitable outreach.” —Foreword Reviews
“We Meant Well is an urgent and engrossing read about intention versus impact. Hasan’s storytelling shines as her international aid worker protagonist confronts the scandal and heartbreak of a sexual assault accusation, while coping with her own messy and crumbling personal life.” —Farzana Doctor, author of Seven and Six Metres of Pavement
Erum Shazia Hasan was born in Canada, raised in France, and is of Pakistani and Indian heritage. She designs initiatives to help communities improve their livelihoods, ensuring opportunities for women while protecting biodiversity. A Sustainable Development Consultant for various UN agencies, she lives in Toronto with her husband and their two children.
Mary-Lou Zeitoun is a Palestinian-Canadian author, essayist, arts journalist and activist. Her novel 13 was the YA winner of the 2008 New England Book Festival award and she has had fiction published in Taddle Creek magazine and Canadian Notes and Queries. Her second novel Jamilah at the End of the World was published in 2022. She divides her time between Toronto and Ottawa.