Helen Benedict

Helen Benedict, a professor at Columbia University, has been writing about refugees and war for many years, both in her nonfiction, Map of Hope & Sorrow: Stories of Refugees Trapped in Greece, published in 2022, and her two most recent novels, Wolf Season and Sand Queen. A recipient of the 2021 PEN Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History, the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism for her exposure of sexual predation in the military, Benedict is also the author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women at War Serving in Iraq. Her writings inspired a class action suit against the Pentagon on behalf of those sexually assaulted in the military and the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Invisible War.

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The Good Deed

Helen Benedict

Publication Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781636281124


In The Good Deed, Helen Benedict offers a stark, powerful portrait of women on opposite sides of a refugee camp in Greece: the refugees trapped inside, and the troubled American tourist whose good intentions morph into a dangerous delusion, resulting in a poignant, layered novel on displacement and belonging, love and betrayal, and the jagged space between altruism and egoism.

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.


“Written with immense sensitivity and depth of knowledge and understanding, The Good Deed is an essential read of our times. It is captivating, revealing, and insightful. It is vividly and beautifully written, taking us to the heart of these women’s experiences, their external and internal journeys, showing us the reality of what it means to be a refugee, the devastation, the loss and trauma, but also strength and resilience. This is a must read! It should be on everybody’s bookshelf. It bought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart.”

Christy Lefteri, author of Songbirds and The Beekeeper of Aleppo