Introducing 2021 Deb Ehsaneh Sadr! AND, her book is out next week…

Last but not least, we present the fifth of our 2021 Debs, Ehsaneh Sadr. She’s having a busy week: She starts here AND her book, A DOOR BETWEEN US, is out on Tuesday. No biggie. Welcome, Ehsaneh!


Ehsaneh is a novelist and activist with a PhD in International Relations. She has worked, in various capacities, on campaigns related to biking advocacy, Palestinian human rights, lifting sanctions on Iran, access to credit for rural villagers, and safe spaces for children in crisis.

What first inspired you to start writing?

I wrote A Door Between Us because I wanted to make it harder to bomb Iran. If Americans could get to know, relate to, and even cheer for a group of Iranians they might never otherwise get to meet, it might also make them more thoughtful about supporting military actions or sanctions that hurt so many innocent people. Like others that have had the opportunity to live with and love people from very different ethnic or religious backgrounds, I know that identity markers are not a good guide to discerning friend from foe. My hope is that this book will help open a door between two nations and cultures that have long been estranged but have much to offer one another.

Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why?

My first reader for A Door Between Us was a dear friend from high school. We got to know each other because we were fascinated by our differences (she was secular Jewish while I was a religious Mormon-Muslim) and disagreed about everything except how fun it was to talk to someone with polar opposite views. She read every single chapter as I completed it, managed to ignore all the embarrassing flaws of early drafts, and made me feel like my voice and story had value so I had the courage to continue.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What kinds of things did you read?

Yes! I was one of those kids who read everywhere – bathroom, dinner table, under the covers with a flashlight, walking to and from school. I remember wishing there was a way to read while I took a shower! More than once, I was so engrossed in a story that I was left behind when my class went back to homeroom after our allotted time in the school library was over. And I read everything!! Except Science Fiction…I love it now but didn’t get into it until college.

Tell us what you’re looking forward to reading?

This is an intimidating year to be debuting because there are SO many incredible books coming out!! Ava Homa’s DAUGHTERS OF SMOKE AND FIRE is already out and depicts the experiences of the oppressed but proud Kurdish-Iranian community through the medium of a beautiful story with gorgeous prose and heartbreaking characters. Eddy Boudel Tan’s AFTER ELIAS has gotten great reviews and is about a man dealing with the tragic loss of his husband just a week before what was supposed to be their wedding. And E. Lily Yu’s ON FRAGILE WAVES about an Afghan family’s experience of immigrating to Australia looks incredible. So much to read…not enough time!!

A Door Between Us is an unflinching, humorous, and sometimes scary snapshot of a family with clashing political ideologies in the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian election and the ensuing Green Wave protests.

I really can’t wait to read this one.

Author: Kathleen West

Kathleen West is the author of the forthcoming novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, out 2/4/20 from Berkley. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.