- Royalty-free author photos are available here.
Chris Cleave’s newest novel, EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN, was an instant New York Times bestseller when it was published this year. His debut, INCENDIARY, was an international bestseller and multiple prize-winner. His second novel, the Costa-shortlisted, New York Times #1 bestseller LITTLE BEE, has found phenomenal worldwide success. (In the UK, Australia and NZ it goes by the title THE OTHER HAND.) His third book, GOLD, confirmed his status as “one of our most powerful, important and psychologically insightful novelists”.
Cleave’s novels are published in thirty languages and have been adapted for screen and stage worldwide. He is a regular newspaper and broadcast contributor to the cultural debate on parenting, literature and human rights.
Outside writing, Cleave’s interests are refugees, education and psychology. He is 42 and lives in London with his wife and three children.
271 thoughts on “About Chris Cleave”
Hi Mr. Cleave
My name is Ben, I am 14, and I am currently writing an ISU on you and your book, Little Bee. I loved the book, and while I was researching I read on another website, you grew up in Cameroon. Is this true, and if so, how long were you there, and how did it affect you as a person? I would love a reply, as I think it would really elevate my presentation.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Hi Ben, thank you for reading Little Bee. I’m really happy you liked it. Yes, I had my early childhood in Cameroon – we lived there from when I was 6 weeks to 7 years old. The place and the people are my first memories. We lived in Douala, in what was called French Cameroun, and I spoke French at school & with school friends. We spoke English at home. There was a lot of life in the streets – a lot of food and music. It was a very happy place in the part of the city where we lived. I didn’t enjoy moving to England & felt like an outsider, which is a feeling that has never completely passed. That enduring sense of dislocation, of being an observer rather than a full participant, is probably the way it affected me as a person. The truth is that I probably don’t belong – probably never belonged – in West Africa either. So I’m one of those deracinated people. There’s a very positive side to that: it means I don’t feel possessive about country or nationality or place, and I don’t get attached to anything except people. And there’s a negative side, in that I feel I will only ever half-understand where people are coming from. It might help in your ISU if you said that my inner conflict about identity and belonging is reflected in the dual narrative structure of the book. That’s probably worth some good marks & has the additional merit of being true, I think. It’s smart of you to get in touch about your essay & I hope it goes well. Thanks for writing such a well constructed query. All best – Chris
Dear Chris, I just finished reading “Gold” and as a reader and cycling enthusiast, was glad to see that it ended the way it did. I thought that it would end badly: Kate would win the match, but Zoe would kill herself, and Sophie would die. Instead, you wrapped up an intense story about love, friendship and the striving for victory in the best way possible. Thank you.
HI Im not a reader nor writer. I just wanted to say that i heard your interview on the radio today. And it just blew me mind. The way you described things and talked gave me a sense that im not alone in this world.
Generations tell history from their own perspective, which steriotypes people and events, and often the truth about race, politics sex … is twisted for the sake of dominant forces in our society
Im not a critic so cant use fancy words to desctibe it.
Just thanks for telling it like it is for those that can’t.
Thank you Eduardo. What a wonderful message to receive – thank you for writing it. You’ve made ME feel that I’m not alone – so thank you for returning the favour! All good wishes – Chris
I loved little Bee just finished reading it.
Wanted to ask is their a sequel because I keep thinking whatever happen after the soldiers took her did she live or die if she lived did she get to tell a story of triumph from pain, suffering, greed itfeels like an awful cliffhanger only because I wanted to know her end did she survive – bcuz she was survival of the fittest I admired her courage,bravery and tenacity to keep moving on. It seems like she came full circle the very place she was running from she went back to been the exact spot on the beach, so I just didn’t want to imagine that her life ended there or was it really about the frailty, evilness of humanity today.
Hi, I’v just finished reading this excellent book……I think she dies.
As a premonition,she had seen her sister coming out of the sea, that gave me a feeling of foreboding.
To see Charlie playing with the other children made her so happy and it was what she wanted the future to be like….. For once she could see a future.
I read. A lot. Mostly crime thrillers – to give you an example James Patterson is my favourite author. So imagine my surprise when a friend gave me ‘gold’ and I just couldn’t put it down, I have never connected with characters such as yours. I was instantly compelled to write and say thank you for such a well written and gripping book. You can be very proud of your work.
I am a retired teacher in my seventies and my favourite pastimes have always been reading and watching films. I read at least one book, fiction or non-fiction, a week. I must say that I feel most satisfied when I re-read for the second or third time some novel predating the 1970s. IRecently i read for the umpteenth time “To Kill A Mocking Bird’ and “Silas Marner”. I tend to be somewhat disappointed when I read ‘modern’ novels. I always find something to criticise or to wish to change. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found ‘The Other Hand’ in the library by an author I had never heard of and found myself engrossed in a modern novel that was, in my opinion, flawless. I will definitely read your other novels.
Any idea when your latest book will be out?
Hi Alannah, thanks for asking. I think the new book will be out in early 2016, although I don’t know which month yet. I will mention it here & on Twitter when I know. Hope you’ll enjoy it!
Met you at the SF fundraiser last year. Are you dyslexic? Why the dyslexic character? Thank you!
Hi Kelly, good to hear from you – hope all’s well with you & yours. I’m not dyslexic but I have two dyslexic close family members and I drew from their experiences when I was working on the character of Zachary in ‘Everyone Brave is Forgiven’. During my research I was struck by how differently people viewed the condition then and now. Back in the 1930s and 1940s people often viewed “word blindness” as a symptom of what they cruelly termed “retardation”, whereas now we have a more nuanced concept of dyslexia and we recognise that the specific difficulties are just as likely to be associated with brilliance.
Dear Chris. I found Little Bee at a farmers market book swap and just finished it. Thank you – what a gift. I am an urban farmer and of course, the title grabbed me, but I had no idea how compelling these pages would be. I was deeply moved and I learned a lot about the Nigerian oil wars in such a profound way. My will heart ache for the Little Bees of the world forever. Your novel had me praying for her, and asking forgiveness from her, and being grateful for her insights, candor, and kindness. I used to be up on Nigerian issues through Democracy Now, but after my son’s murder in 2009, I went on a news fast. Your writing weaves the issues in such a way that we learn about real life through your characters. May all of us in the oil consuming culture know the consequences, and may all those who profit from greed get what they deserve. Please forgive us Little Bee – we have a lot to learn from you. Thank you Chris – I will read your other novels and place them in my book swap. Namaste.
My name is melike which means ‘queen’ in turkish. Im a big fan of you. First i read ‘little be’ then im addicted to all of your novels. There are lots of people in turkey who follow you fondly. Thank you so much! you’re teaching us how to love all the things we have. Sorry for my bad writing, we love you!
Good afternoon Chris….. I have just finished “Gold” after reading your first 2 books in quick succession. I couldn’t put any of them down! Considering I have a 3 year old and find little time for reading these days I thought you should know you have reignited my love of reading!
My husband is a more-than-keen cyclist ( he made the GB team development squad once) so I completely understood the commitment involved in both characters’ lives in Gold. My husband has a constant struggle with juggling his family and his passion. He is now also writing his first novel…..6 months in….I’m encouraging him to read Gold now whilst he writes for inspiration.
I’ve now picked up J K Rowling’s new attempt at crime….. while I wait for your next book! I look forward to hearing about it soon,
All the best
Dear Mr Cleave,
I’ve just finished “Little Bee” (in German) and I’m so touched by the story. It’s a great book, an impressing story and it makes me thinking just “how incredibly unfair is this world!”.
Thank you, Mr Cleave… and I hope and believe that your book will change at least a little bit in our heads, in our minds, so that the world turns somehow more fair, sometimes.
I will give this book to my friends. Perhaps it helps to make some people more aware of those unfair systems.
At least, we should be grateful for our wonderful lives.
I’m looking forward to reading your other books!
Viele Grüße aus Süddeutschland!’
I enjoyed reading Little Bee and wanted you to know that. What a great inspiring story and one that I wished didn’t end. As probably intended it has made me think about our laws and globalization and the fate of refugees and the changes that need to be made. There have been times before when reading a work that I wished the story would continue but never before have I been inspired to jot down my own thoughts as to what that would look like. No plot, no plan, just snippets that I would like to share with you; though that feels awfully presumptuous! This reader encourages a sequel and I am of course sharing the book with others as well as doing some research to learn more about the American procedures and laws that impact refugees. I must say I am afraid of what I will learn because after many years in social service I know how woefully inadequate some “helping” systems can be. Congratulations on a wonderful novel and I am looking forward to reading your other books.
Dear Mr. Chris Cleave
My name is Megan Regier and I am a senior at Newton High School at Newton Kansas. Recently, a small group and I were given the task to read your novel Little Bee and conduct a class wide book talk. I found myself very intrigued by the novel. As my group and I discussed the book on a more intellectual level I found myself even more amazed. Your writing allows a lot of room for interpretation which allowed us to use our imagination in discovering the author’s purpose for different elements. As a group, we could not always come to an agreement on the purpose of some elements however so we felt it necessary to contact you.
The hunter that Andrew met on the beach was a vicious man whose fuel was angered by the poor treatment he had always received from the white man. This hunter was rotting externally from an infection and after physically killing Nkiruka he silently killed himself. Andrew O’Rourke on the other hand was slowly rotting internally. His cowardice essentially killed Nkiruka and he too committed suicide. Our question involving these two distant characters concerns whether or not you purposefully created this similarity between the two.
We know that the novel does have another title called The Other Hand. Throughout the novel we noticed that there were many dichotomies where characters related to or represented each other. For example we believe that Little Bee’s attempts to save Andrew connect to Sarah’s efforts to save Little Bee. Is it possible that you created the second title to represent the two different narrators?
I found myself very impressed at the level of passion in the writing. In reading through some of your Q&A’s, I noticed you mentioned how easy it is to ignore the sufferings of the world. Would you say you can relate to Little Bee’s sufferings at any point in your life? Or have you only witnessed the suffering of others?
We hope that you find time to respond to our questions. Little Bee is a very touching story and I hope that it helps to make a difference in the refugees that have as much hope as Little Bee does in life. Thank you for your time. We look forward to receiving a response.
Hi Megan, thank you – and your group – very much indeed for reading the book and for giving it such deep consideration. I’m honoured.
I’m glad you didn’t all agree on all elements of the novel. I’ve never thought that a novel had a duty to make itself unambiguous – only to provide an interesting starting point for discussion. I myself have changed my mind about several scenes in the novel. (For example, I am now more sympathetic to the Andrew character than I was when I wrote him. And I am less keen on Sarah).
With regard to your specific point about Andrew and the hunter, I think I was trying to show the corrosive effects of violence, whether one is the perpetrator or the victim, and whether or not one bears responsibility. Violence against the powerless is a terrible thing, and once witnessed its effects continue to surface in unexpected ways, months and years later.
To your point about the two titles, neither of them was my original choice! I wanted to call the novel THE DEVELOPING WORLD – and I’m grateful to my editors that they wouldn’t let me.
And to answer your question about suffering: my life has been a walk in the park, for the most part. I think of myself as a neutral observer. I try to get out there and learn about other people’s experience of life. I think that my work is to stay curious about about others, and not to become emotionally immune to the suffering they face. Luckily, I have not suffered much myself.
I hope this helps, and I thank you again for giving the book your time.
Little Bee was book I chose from a reading list for one of my writing classes. I chose it due to the interesting description on the back of the book that did not give much detail to what the story entailed. The book was such a breeze to read and I could not put it down. I now have to write a paper and present on the novel. I read online that you found inspiration from briefly working at a detention center and saw firsthand what the conditions were like. I was wondering if you could tell me more about that, for my thesis involves the need for more compassion towards refugees. Thank you!
Hi Mickayla, thank you for your kind words. Yes, I did briefly work at an immigration detention centre called Campsfield, near Oxford. I was working as a casual labourer at the time, and I had a job in the kitchens for a few days. Because it was a low security prison, I was free to mingle with the inmates and talk to them on my breaks. I was horrified to realise that they were detained indefinitely, with no trial or public process, having committed no crime. It didn’t seem right to me then, and it still doesn’t. You say that your thesis is about compassion for refugees, and in my experience we need to have empathy before we can feel compassion. Spending some time with refugees, I realised they were no different from any of us, in the sense that they were simply trying to protect their families by moving from dangerous places to safer ones. We would all do just the same, if we had that kind of bad luck.
Been a long time since you gave me your guitar.
Nice to see you have done well.
Kevin, Bangkok Thailand, let me know if you come my way.
Kevin, it’s so good to hear from you! Have sent email 🙂
You are absolutely my new favorite writer. Loved Little Bee, and am looking forward to the others!
I have just read The Other Hand for the second time as I am reviewing it with my book club on Tuesday. It is an amazing book – very powerful, difficult to put down – a mesh of themes, characters and colour. Much has been said about the first two but I want to talk about the latter. I am a musician at heart and have always maintained that music alone has the power to really move but with is book I was really affected by the language. You brought the two worlds together with colourful descriptive passages – really inspiring!
Dear Chris Cleave!
I’ve just read Little Bee as a school-project, and I’m really happy that I chose that book for my project!
I loved the book about Little Bee and Sarah, and I love the way you’re writing! 🙂
For my school-project I just wondered:
-What inspired you to write Little Bee?
-And i’ve also heard that you grew up in Kamerun in Africa, so I also wondered if you got inspiration from the time you lived there?
Best regards from Ingrid, from Norway!
Hi Chris, I wanted to drop you a line and thank you for the great books you’ve written. I’ve read them all and passed them on to friends and family, your writing style and story lines are interesting, believable and well written.
‘The Other Hand’ is one of my all time favourite reads and it has inspired me with my own writing (I’m studying with the Open University towards an English degree, only another year to go!).
I very much look forward to your new book, and again thank you all your hard work.
I am currently reading Little Bee, it reminded me of ‘My friend Matt and Henna the whore’ by Adam Zameenzad – beautiful, heartbreaking
Today I finished your novel, The Other Hand. I found it an exceptional read and very well written. I particularly liked the characters (although some where quite dislikable at times!) and the dual perspectives if both the female narators. I loved its symbolism and it’s obvious compassion. Brilliant!
At the end of the novel you make mention of a document that you have provided a link to relating to The evolution of immigration detention in the UK).
Unfortunately, I cannot access that link and you mention the PDF is uploaded on your website should the link go down but I cannot locate it there either? I’ve searched the web unsuccessfully.
Are you able to post this on your web site? The link was : http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/PDFs/rscworkingspaper27.pdf
Thanks for a great read!
I am reading the novel and I am really curious to read all other books of your. Right know I am reading little bee for my English class it is such as nice story and wells set. thanks for all your books keep writing more book.
Heyllo mr cleave man, i rly liek u an ur buuk little B (lol). Thx f0r maeking dis buuk, i tink it is rly aw sum an i thx u agen. amen. i h4s but 1 quest chin 4 u, when is u b1rthdey?? i ned u place of b1rrth f0 mai schuul prooject kthxbai
ur f4v f4n
I am having a real hard time to find Little Bee in French, can you help me?
I’ve just finished Gold in record time (I’d easily get gold for reading speed) because it’s so bloody brilliant. I’m bereft now; bereft I tell you!
Hurry up and finish the next one so I can grab it 🙂
i,ve just read the other hand. fantastic but i wanted more!!i have a kenyan sister in law so i,m sending her the book as of now.A wonderful thought provoking book.
So you’re your a writer; your brother a designer, please tell me about the water supply in your childhood home!! I’m the mother of five children and am fascinated by the whole nature/nurture of creative giftedness, particularly when it is seemingly clustered within one generation of offspring. It may be enlightening for me to find out more about your parents….
I have just put down “Little Bee” having read it in pretty much one sitting. I particularly admired your writing from the female perspective, how tough was that to get right? I think you nailed it, kudos. I was very moved by this book and will definitely read your other stuff.
Julia (from NZ)
I was just wondering if there were any books that changed or influenced you as a writer?
I love all your books, particularly The Other Hand, and I’m always curious about the journey a writer has undergone in order to produce their work…
Thank you, Helen. Yes, there are quite a few books that have changed me as a writer & as a person, I suppose. I don’t think I was ever the same after I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. Virginia Woolf’s work is very important to me. I would never have been a writer (I was trying to be a scientist) if I hadn’t read Primo Levi’s books – especially The Periodic Table – at university. I think I am improving slowly with the years, but I’m still working towards writing something on the level of those writers. There are a few present day novelists who inspire me, too. These days I am not so much influenced by people’s style, but rather by their example. In that regard I admire Philipp Meyer for his uncompromising attitude to the craft as much as for the superb work he produces.
I am from Indonesia.I love your novel very much. You can create the novel with two different perspectives. It is different from other novels that I had read before. Honestly, I decided to use your novel as the object of my thesis. However, it’s difficult to find the reviews, critics, and comments of Little Bee. Since it is used for my thesis, I must use the credible sources. Could you help me? ^^
Hi Kresentia, thank you for reading the book – I’m glad you like it & I hope your thesis goes well. I’ve collected some excerpts of the reviews on this page and you can run a web search on those to get the full texts. I don’t have any more than that in terms of reviews & criticism I’m afraid – I know there’s a fair bit out there on the web but I haven’t been collecting it. Good luck!
Hello, sir! Let me start off with a cliché, I’ve just finished The Other Hand, and it was brilliant.
I was assigned to read it for my literature class so I thought I’d add it on my shelf on goodreads and then I found out you were a goodreads author, which was pretty exciting, because most of the authors of the books I read in class died a long time ago. And you are not only alive, but also on a website! So I thought I might as well write to you? I’m from a tiny remote country in South-east Asia whose name you might never heard of. I had also been living in Britain for a while so I can relate to Little Bee quite well. The Other Hand is very inspiring. I love that part about scars so much I put it on my bedroom wall. All my friends like it too. I’m deciding what to read next between Gold and Incendiary. Just want to let you know how far your books have reached.
Thank you very much!
PS. Please don’t mind my English. My English is quite terrible for someone who’s reading English at university. Shame.
Hi Akira, thanks for your very kind message, and for reading The Other Hand. It cheered me up hugely to learn that I am one of the few authors you’ve been assigned who is not currently dead. Although I must say I am not a great believer in death, having never met anyone who has experienced it & reported back, it is nice to still be on this side of that great event which, undeniably, seems to make writers less prolific. I’m working on a pretty good novel at the moment, I hope, which with any luck I will live long enough to complete & humbly commend to you. Cheers in the meantime – your message made my day!
I’m doing a project on you for class- what are your occupations other than writing?
Hi Shannon, I hope your project goes well! I don’t have another occupation outside writing, though I hopefully do an okay job helping to bring up our three children. Other than that, I’m quiet. When I’m not on tour I’m becoming more and more of a recluse. I work very hard, walk around London – which is a city I love – read a lot and get to bed most nights by 10. Imagine the opposite of Jack Kerouac. Picturing that? Right, now take a little more hair off around the crown & temples, and that’s me. There, that’s an exclusive quote, so I hope you get an A.
Chris, Little Bee was sitting, unread, on my fiances bookshelf. I’ve always been attracted first to cover art, then dust cover quotes and I knew I must read it. Magnificent! I will be picking up Incendiary today.
Hi Nick – thank you, sir. I’m delighted you liked it & I hope you enjoy Incendiary too.
Loved Gold! The way you write is amazing and I have never come across anyone like you! But… if you have any author/book recommendations it would be much appreciated. Can’t wait for your next masterpiece!
Hi Hayley, thanks very much for reading Gold – I’m delighted you liked it. Yes – I think Philipp Meyer is terrific & would highly recommend his forthcoming book THE SON. That’s my top pick so far this year. I also have an ongoing project of reading everything that Susan Orlean has ever written – she is endlessly entertaining & insightful. And I have Ann Patchett on audio on my headphones a lot when I’m traveling at the moment. All of those people can write.
I live in Southern Ontario, Canada. I am right now at work and just finished reading Little Bee. It was recommended by a friend of my daughter’s. I now have to admonish that young woman…..I cannot stop crying and have to go back to the office after my lunch break! She should have warned me not to be in public when I finished it!!
Seriously, I loved the book and the writing style. I look forward to getting into some of your others.
I noticed somewhere on the website that Little Bee would be made into a movie. Is this still in the works and when do you foresee it coming out?
i’m using the other hand novel as my final assigment in unversity 🙂
Merci Chris pour ce bon moment de lecture. Je viens de finir little bee et j’ai passė un excellent moment. Les personnages sont vraiment trés attachants, aussi bien Sarah, que petite abeille et Charly. Vivement qu’un prochain de tes livres soit traduit en français.
Merci, Marine! Je suis très touché que tu as lu le livre. J’ai du mal à trouver un éditeur français en ce moment, mais je suis toujours plein d’espoir! J’espère que nous allons vous voir, toi et Marc, très bientôt.
just thought you would like to know, you have probably ruined my chances of enjoying any other fiction book i read in the future.
have just completed ‘gold’ and of the 3, the book that most appeals to me was ‘incendiary’.
have told just about anyone old enough to read, read your 3 books.
thank you so much for giving my reading great pleasure.
any thoughts on number 4 book?
thanks again, keep up the writing.
I am a 31 year old mother of a 2 year old boy. I am currently taking time off from work to “find myself”. I had spent the last 10 years working in corporate America. I picked up Little Bee and was memorized by the character development. It has made me come to appreciate humanity more. It has been such a wonderful reprieve exploring the lives of 2 such divergent characters and the common thread that you have so skillfully wound between them. Thank you for such a great work. It has made me fall in love with reading all over again…I will start taking my son to the library every week in hopes that he may have the same love of reading and writing one day. Thanks for the inspiration!
I have just finished reading The Other Hand (aka Little Bee) I found it hard to put down once I was sucked into wanting to understand the backstory. A well constructed plot to introduce the whole ‘3rd world’ issue, with the seriousness offset by the humour based on the 3rd world vs The West culture comparison. OK I see some female reviewers have commented on some of Sarah’s actions and thoughts – and doubtless mothers/wives have different feelings to me, but I did not have any serious plot issues except maybe the frustration of them actually being on the beach at the end. But I guess our Western arrogance assumed the bribes had worked. Overall well written, enjoyable, thought provoking and well done for writing something different and not another detective/mass murder job.
What a pleasure to chat with you on the way to Spokane last week! And, what a nice surprise to see the sunrise photo on your website from the flight!
You were kind enough to show me your postcard app for that photo and I would love to look into that if you would pass that on to me (again!).
Also, I was pleased to see that not only does the High School library where I work carry “Little Bee”, but also has “Gold” on order for our students and staff. Looking forward to reading your latest!
Safe travels to you and I hope someday to be reading your latest book about all of your travel experiences! (Such great stories about your cab drivers!!)
I am sitting at my kitchen table, having just finished “Little Bee”, and I honestly cannot find the words to justify the emotions that ran through me continuously from the very first words until the final end(which I desperately want to continue on in the rest of Little Bee’s story). Your writing is mind-blowing, the characters so real, and the way you brought me into the minds of these complicated and tortured characters is a blessing. The only thing that saddens me is that I have owned this book for over a year yet it somehow got lost in the many piles of I have in my “to read” towers as I am a book hoarder. Once I find a good book it breaks my heart to part with it, like a good friend. Although not too knowledgeable about your country’s systems I have seen here the many problems within the immigration system and have seen the poverty and despair in South America that many flee from with what hopes I do not know? Thank you for all of your hard work, your investment in this cause, and the beauty of your words in which you have done so.
I have just finished ‘the other hand’ and have accessed your website immediately because at the back of the book it said that there would be links to charities on the website. I’m really keen to act on the compassion and concern for refugees/immigrants that your book has stirred in me and wondered if you have any thoughts as I couldn’t find the charity info. Thanks for a wonderful, worthwhile read.
Dear Mr. Cleave: So exciting! I am reviewing your book, LITTLE BEE four times for the four book clubs I belong to. (Two are in Milwaukee and two are in Sarasota) So when I come to Boswell’s on Downer in Milwaukee this Monday (July 16) ,to hear you speak, I will really want your autograph for your 1st two books. I also am reviewing INCENDIARY next July, 2013 (so far one time). Love your creativity and wonder how you are able to climb into a woman’s mind like you do? Wonderful! RG
If only Judith Coleman had put some sort of warning at the beginning of her post!
I’m halfway through Little Bee and can barely manage her suffering, and now to hear Judith’s words about the ending makes me not want to read anymore–I can’t stand Bee’s pain. Doggone.
I plan to come see you when you come to Spokane WA in October. Your writing is exquisite!
Just finished ‘Gold’ and it blew me away. I’ve loved all your books but this one, I think, is the most powerful of all – and I love how for perhaps the first time you’ve so clearly allowed a shaft of redemption to so clearly touch the world you’ve created. So uplifting. Thank you
I’m not one to write comments regarding great literature but this is an extraordinary work. This book is a must read if you want to be moved into compassionate understanding of the plight of refugees. Not only has this writer been able to convey cultural subtleties but he has also dealt with human frailty from such a sensitive perspective that I erroneously believed the writer was a woman. The beauty of this book is the balance, held on a razors edge, between the horrendous effects of Globalisation and the hope we hold for a peaceful and compassionate future. A future we must all work toward together. Much thanks to Mr Cleave and those who help him write.
Dear Chris Cleave,
I live on a small island in the North Pacific Ocean off the coast of Canada – peaceful, calm Canada.
A moment ago I finished reading Little Bee. Shattered by the ending, but understanding of its truthful necessity. Enthralled with the depth and complexity of Little Bee and Sarah and their relationship. Charlie rang true – I loved the little guy.
Appreciated the moments of humour to balance the intense tragic dramas. It was the constant surprising events and revelations that kept me reading late at night. All in all, outstanding novel.
We have been treated in the past to book talks here by Sarah Dunant and this summer John Vaillant – interested?
I just wanted to let you know that, after reading Gold (and having already read Little Bee and Incendiary), I don’t know where to go from here… I just don’t think any other book or author can compare! Your writing is by far the best I’ve ever read and I can’t express how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed all three of your books. I’m looking forward to reading whatever you come up with next, and want to thank you for your incredible writing so far!
If you have any author/book recommendations in the meantime (as I anxiously await your next book!), it would be much appreciated 🙂
I just finished reading Little Bee. What a memorable book! I now have all of your books on order. You are a fantastic writer
Just wanted to let you know that I just read Little Bee for the second time. I am using it for a book club read and discussion. I’m excited to discuss it since it has so many facets. The whole story is ten different ones intertwined together. It’s hard to find a truly great book to discuss at length at a book club. I believe Little Bee is going to work out really well. I felt like I connected with both Little Bee and Sarah. Your character development is terrific and I’m sure the other ladies will agree. Now I’m excited to read Incendiary and Gold.
Dear Mr. Cleave,
I just read “Little Bee” and want you to know that I love your style of writing and how you made the characters so real. I appreciate the depth of your writing; so much of what I read these days is shallow. Thank you. Carla Mobley
What inspired you to start writing?
Hi Mercedes, it’s thanks to my mother that I started writing. She always made sure that my brother and I had lots of good books to read – we visited the library every week. I loved reading as a child, and always wanted to see if I could write stories too. Sorry, this isn’t an exciting or dramatic account of how I started writing – but that’s how it happened.
what can i say, loved the book…. the other hand… looked forward to reading your other books 🙂
Thanks Joan – hope you’ll enjoy the others too.
I just finished “Little Bee”. I read it in one day. I think you’ve broken my heart but you did it in a most beautiful way. Thank you for sharing that story. It will not leave me for a long time.
Such ugly beauty!
Hi Annete – thanks… I think 😉
Hello Chris, We are discussing Little Bee at our book club this evening in California (my pick). I loved how you, as a man, could narrate the story so well from two women’s perspectives. There are so many artful and meaningful expressions from Little Bee that are worthy of underlining and quoting. I look forward to reading more of your books in the future. Write on!
Hi Janet – thank you – I’m delighted you liked the book & I hope the book club discussion goes well.
Just saw that you will be coming to Dallas, TX, in support of the new book this fall and did a little happy dance. I love your work and the way you are able to write such compelling stories from the points of view of folks who don’t “look” like you on the outside to show that we all have the same human needs and desires on the inside–my ultimate goal in writing, too. I think we share a few foreign publishers, which made me feel very honored when I saw their lists. Will be looking forward to the Dallas event and probably bring along the whole family as we’ve all loved the books so much!
Have read Little Bee & now starting Incendiary, after seeing the film. I loved Little Bee & already love Incendiary (just started last night)…am going to be recommending you to everyone I know…I’m in Baja just now, but live in the San Francisco Bay Area…
A couple of things:
1. Both links to the newspaper bios of you are broken:(
2. I’d love to see your parenthood columns published as a book, so I don’t have to read them online:)
3. Notice you’ve done long-distance sailing – any chance you’ll write about that? My folks retired early, bought a wooden boat (Lapworth 36) in the mid-80’s & were going to sail around the world, but only got as far as the Sea of Cortez – they loved it, & purchased property here,where they could land when not @ sea…anyway, Dad died in ’92, & Mom’s still here part of the year, & spends the summers with me in Berkeley…she celebrated her 80th birthday last week, & we’re down here reconnecting w/ old friends (I took her to Kauai for 3 wks. in Nov/Dec. for this big BD:))…
Anyway, I’m a librarian between jobs/gigs, & we’re both big readers, & I’m SO glad to have found you….
Would love to read your bios, if you can send them to me, or post on your website in pdf or whatever…
Please don’t feel you need to post this on your website, or feel free to do heavy editing…
A BIG fan
come from Scotland myself but have been living in Italy for 30 years..my American friend Dina..sent me the book Little Bee…loved it so so much and bought it also in Scotland..THE OTHER HAND…. you know ‘Little Bee’ sounds much better..why change the name for the U.K. ? Anyway a big question..any more books on the way?
Had nothing to read in english so started ‘Little Bee’ again….read the same as the first time and loved it even more. Good luck for your writing..you certainly have talent. Thank you so much .
I would, personally, call Chris Cleave 21st century Oscar Wilde. So far, Wilde was my favorite writer until I read Little Bee and could not believe that somebody can write with the same wittiness and sense of understanding the life that surround us. Writing with such a fluency and soul, in such easy-readable and acceptable way! I was totally surprised that in today’s time a book like Little Bee can be found. I’ve read Incendiary and am onto The other hand. Have one question for you. I do not understand why are you writing from female’s perspective and where did you get such an insight in hidden corners of female’s personality?
Hi Suzana – you are very kind and I love Wilde’s work but I wouldn’t put myself up there with him yet. Maybe with a few more years’ hard work. But maybe not even then. He had a unique combination of wit and wisdom. Also, he was damned handsome.
Can I ask how you write such wonderful descriptive metaphors? An instance is the likening of Little Bee to a pound coin. Do you do metaphor exercises? Think of something at random and try to connect it? I read the Other Hand and was awed at your imagery, and the emotions you manage to evoke. I cried three times reading it.
And now I’ve just read your short story too, and could cry again, as nearing the end of my own book, I realise how colourless it seems comparatively. In some ways, your writing has made me feel mediocre, but in others it has inspired me to go over my own again and to add more Van Goghian (if there is such a word) tints.
Hi Anne – thanks for your kind comments about use of metaphor. I don’t use any particular exercises or techniques to get to them (I just have a kind of short-circuited brain) and I honestly wouldn’t worry if your own work uses metaphor in a different way. I think I have a style of writing that allows an occasional exuberant metaphor, but if you write in a different style then possibly that kind of thing would be unnecessary, or even overblown. If you are able to tell the story in an elegant way, without embellishment, then that has its own kind of beauty. Actually I think your painterly metaphor is a very good one in that respect. Van Gogh’s style permitted some brushwork that would be out of place on a Whistler, for example – and maybe you’re more like the latter artist. (And incidentally, the one I prefer).
Dear Chris, first of all I would like to thank you so very much for such a wonderful books. I came across Incendiary without knowing what the book was about but there was something about the title that catch my attention and I loooove it so much I found myself telling everyone about it and the same it’s happening with Little Bee I have started reading it but I enjoy the way you write so much that I’m reading it very slowly so I can enjoy it for much longer. Im only on page 33 but I’ve just been on thephone with my mum and I have been telling her a bit about the book because I wanted her to read it and here comes my question Have your books been traslated to Spanish? and if so Do you now the titles? thsi information will really help me as I haven’t been able to find them, my mum and I enjoy reading very much and we recomend each other books and I would really love it if she could read them both
Thank you very much
Hi Daniela – thank you for your kind comments. Yes, Little Bee has been translated into Spanish by the excellent Maeva publishing company – it is called “Con el corazón en la mano”. Incendiary is published as Incendiario. Hope your mum will enjoy them!
Thank you so much for Little Bee and Incendiary. I read Little Bee last summer and enjoyed every page of it. I then went out and bought Incendiary,and again I enjoyed every page.
I have just read your comments and words of advice that you gave to Amie Pierce last September about writting, and have to say that you have given me a boost to continue with my own writting. I was worrying about what people would think of my stories, wether they would enjoy them or not. Now having read your article I will stop worrying so much and just continue to write.
When people ask me what do you do for a living I reply by saying I’m a teacher of English ( I now live and work in Paris) I’m also a writer. I shall stop saying I’m a writer and just say I’m a story teller. Besides I am yet to get published, so I don’t feel that it is right to call ones self a writer. However you can because you are truely a great writer and story teller.
I hope we shall meet up if you come to Paris then hopefully you will sign my copies of your books.
I look forward to reading your next book
you will sign my copies of your books.
Hi chris – like so many others, i have been wholly moved by the story of Little Bee, in a way that i haven’t by any story for a long while. Thank you for the telling of it. And for the fully empathy for all the players. Please keep writing. Luci
Thank you Luci – I will, I promise!
Dear Mr. Cleave,
I wrote to you a year ago telling you that I was going to present and discuss “Little Bee” in our book circle. Reasons beyond my control made me postpone the discussion from April to December.
I would like you to know that what attracted my attention to the book was its cover. Ada Vardi, a graphic artist, designed it and was, most probably, influence by JD Salinger’s instructions (no image on cover – just the book title and author’s name. He specifically asked that his name be in a font not greater than the book’s title).
I attached a picture and hope the picture got through.
I assume you are familiar with Ali Mazrui’s book “The Africa Condition: A Political Diagnosis”(The Reith Lectures. London, Heinemann 1980). Mazrui wrote in his book that towards the end of the century the diplomatic power triumvirate in Africa will be composed of Nigeria, Zaire and South Africa under black control. He also predicted Nigeria will become the largest country in Euro – Africa and perhaps even with some nuclear ability.
The United Nations Population Division projection for the year 2100 expects India, which is likely to surpass China as the world’s largest country by 2030, to reach more than 1.55 billion people in 2100. Here’s the list of the world’s largest countries in 2100…
India – 1,557,468,000
China – 944,380,000
Nigeria – 756,007,000
Little Bee’s self-sacrifice in Charley’s rescue on the Nigerian beach echoed Boaz’s words to Ruth:
And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
I could not avoid comparing this Sarah’s self-sacrifice, the decision about which was made within minutes, with the heroism of the Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust who placed themselves in danger and continuous ponderings every day over the months and years.
You may be interested to learn that there are several words in Hebrew with contrasting meanings (like cleave), for example: “mazor” means both a disease and a cure.
“Bee” in Hebrew is Dvorah or Devorah (Deborah in the Bible) and “Kolech”, a Jewish feminist organization, chose the name “Devorah” for its programme of girls’ empowerment in the religious education. I think Little Bee would like it.
I opened the evening with two short musical pieces:
Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” in honour of Little Bee and Elgar & Benson’s “Land Of Hope And Glory” in honour (?) of England.
Some of our friends thought you endowed Little Bee with resourcefulness, psychological insight and linguistic ability far beyond what may be expected of a 16 year old who grew up in Africa. On the other hand a colleague who worked in a school of foreign workers’ children assured us that she found incredible level of intelligence among those children who really come from poor homes.
Thank you for the literary experience.
I wish you all the best for 2012
I’ve spent the day reading ‘the other hand’ from start to finish and have been truly affected by the story and the excellent characterisation. I just wanted to say thank you for sparking an interest in the fates of asylum seekers and giving them a voice – I have always felt this to be an inhumane process and now am completely convinced. Your book has also made me want to know more about Nigeria and the injustices you write about – there are always small steps we can take to try to make things better for others and raising awareness is so important. Will be sticking ‘Incendiary’ on my wish list! Best wishes and more power to your pen, Lesley.
I just finished recorded my days efforts and read your pep talk. WOW. Very inspirational. Thank you.
I recently read ‘the other hand’, ho man, it was fantastic. It was indeed a job well done and I cant wait to read the rest of your book.
I read Little Bee this summer and could not put it down. One of the most original books I have read in a long time! I selected Incendiary for my book club and we are meeting next week. Not quite finished with reading the book yet but I am going to be the reviewer. Where do I start? What inspired you to write this book? Was it a culmination from your many experiences as a journalist? I must say I am not really sure how I should start with this book review, perhaps starting with why you selected the title and give examples of this types of actions and behaviour throughout the book. An thoughts from you would be most appreciated. Thank you.
Hopefully when you do another book tour for Gold you can get back to Milwaukee in the SUMMER. There are many wonderful things when you can actually see our lake.) And again, many thanks for this website. I have so much more background. (I even have a neighbor who is not in my book club but called to discuss what I thought happened in the ending. I can now share you comments from other sections of this site.) An interesting small accedote on how I “found” your book. I went to a local bookseller here right before I flew overseas on a trip this spring. I told her I wanted (and I do recall my words) “a compelling read.” She handed me your book.
Best of luck.
Thanks Wendy! If you happen to recall the name of the bookseller & the book store, it would be great if you could let me know so I can drop her a line. I live or die by the support of booksellers & I’m very grateful when one recommends my books. Thanks!
Hi Wendy – thank you for your kind message. You’re fortunate to live in Milwaukee! I found it to be one of the most interesting and welcoming communities I’ve visited. Regarding your question about the film, I’m not involved in the process at all so I’m afraid I can’t give any updates on it. I’ve been writing ‘Gold’ while BBC Films in conjunction with Pretty Pictures have been dealing with the film as per this article. Many thanks to you and your book club for being interested in my work.
I am reviewing Little Bee for my book Club this Wednesday (Oct. 19). I have greatly enjoyed all the information and links on your website along with the many interviewes on You Tube. (I especially liked the Milwaukee interview since this is where I live.) I do have one question. Several years ago there was mention that Nicole Kidman was going to do a film version of Little Bee. Can you tell me what the status of this project is? Are you involved? (I know my book club will ask.) Many thanks for being so accessible — it has made my job reviewing so much better. Looking forward to reading Gold.
We met briefly this summer at your mother-in-laws house (you were busy clearing the ivy). I convinced my book club to read Little Bee back home in California, and sure am glad we did. I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it, though with a twinge of relief that it was fiction (unlike “What is the What”, which sometimes I wish had actually been fiction).
Please say hello to your lovely wife from me, and to your shinger* boys from my son Quincy.
* from the verb to shing, onomatopoeia invented by Quincy as referring to the sound of a sword/shinger, but mostly used to refer to your sons in response to their ongoing interest in the summer of 2011.
Hi Noémie, it’s great to hear from you! I did enjoy meeting you in the summer, and our kids still talk about Quincy and reenact their epic sword battles. Thanks for reading the book – glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for persuading the club to read it too! Till next summer I hope. Love to you and your shinger family.
I just read Little Bee and Incendiary in a weeks time. Amazing reads. They both went very deep for me. Your books make me think and care and widen my world. They made me want to look around and see who can I help. Or take the time to be present with someone. I also felt a lot of gratitude for my life. Yes, and i too appreciated how well you could write from the female perspective. I’ve never seen the movie Incendiary and i look forward to that.
Thank you and congratulations on your success.
Leslie – thank you very much. I hope you’ll enjoy the movie if you get to see it. Little Bee is being filmed too, and I will put news about that on this site as soon as I have any.
I belong to a book club through my daughters’ school and we are currently reading your book, “Little Bee”. I am really enjoying it.
I was reading on the train recently and a gentleman struck up a conversation with me about the book. He also mentioned that he knew you. When he told me how closely you live, I thought how wonderful it would be to have you join us at our next meeting (Oct 4) when we will be discussing you novel. The book club is made up of about a dozen women with various backgrounds and experiences – a very intelligent, interesting group of ladies. I do realize that it is last minute but we would be honored! And we are so close! Thank you for your consideration…
Hi Sylvie, I’d be honoured to meet your book club, seeing as it’s local. Thanks for the invitation! I’ll be in touch by email.
I recently read “Little Bee” while living and working as a human rights lawyer in Tanzania, and I enjoyed it immensely, slowly plugging away through it amidst various power outages, sweaty nights, and moments of homesickness. Thank you for the book, congratulations, and best of luck with your future works.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Hi Roman – thank you. Very happy you liked the book. Kudos to you for your human rights work! Best wishes – Chris
Great advice for any writer. I picked up Little Bee many months ago, and was hooked from the very first line. You have one hell of a way with words. I wrote about and recommended Little Bee on my blog…http://bit.ly/rhZKHZ
As a writer of mostly non-fiction (essays and feature articles), I struggle with fiction. As much as I’d love to write it, it’s a difficult genre for me. But, I am going to take a step back and take your advice…and try just telling a story.
Little Bee is a perfect example of why I can’t read electronic books…I need to hold the hard copy in my hand, turn the pages, and underline passages that affect me. My copy of Little Bee is filled with lead ; ) Would you be willing to sign it for me?
Can’t wait to read more from you.
All the best,
Hi Beth, of course I’d be honored to sign your copy. I will be doing a great many events in the US next year, so if you can make it to any of them it would be great to meet you!
I devoured Incendiary and Little Bee and I am hooked. I have now read everything on your site that you have written. I am a 34 year old mom from the U.S. I am married with 6 children and with the little time I have I have decided to go back to school for business but my true passion lies in the arts painting, drawing, photography, and writing. I am writing an author presentation for my college Creative Writing class (which leaves little room for being creative) on yoinku. I saw your book Little Bee on sale and thought I’d give it a go. I want people to read your books I think they are written so freely. I find that when I try to write I think to much about what others will think of what I have written and it stunts me. Did you go to school for writing? Do you have any advice for people that want to write? I think you are witty and inspiring and that you write things people don’t want to admit are real which is why I love your books! It’s the honesty that you have. Thank you so much for what you have given to the literary world! I look forward to reading more of your books/columns/anything and everything!
Hi Amie – thanks for your very kind words. As a parent of three children myself, I’m impressed that you find time to read with six! In answer to your questions, I didn’t go to writing school but I do read widely and I should think I absorbed some technique that way. My advice for people who want to write is first of all to think of yourself as a storyteller, rather than a capital-W Writer or a capital-N Novelist. If you imagine that you are telling your story to a dozen people around a campfire, and that they will lose interest and wander off if you become too self-indulgent, then it tends to focus your mind on pacing your story right. I play all kinds of tricks with time and narrative perspective in my books, but I hopefully get away with it because the backbone of my work is a story, rather than a style. I think my second piece of advice is to care about your story to the point where you would still be writing it even if no one was paying you. If you care about it that much, then you won’t worry about following literary conventions or trends. Readers are not the same as TV viewers – they are braver and more adventurous – they are quite capable of understanding what you write, and running with it, even if conventional wisdom says they aren’t. So there’s no problem with challenging conventions and mores in your writing, and with producing work that is provocative and polemical, so long as you adhere to rule number one, which is to make sure that you’re telling a real, original story. And I think my third piece of advice is not to listen to my advice. I mean who am I? There is a winning answer that the great W Somerset Maugham gave when he was asked about being a novelist. He said: “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” Good luck with your writing.
I knew the book (The Other Hand) was special by the time I first saw it. You gave us no clue about what happens inside, but that makes it so tempting instead!
This book is a complete package. I love it since the first sentence, and it’s so hard to put it down.
You’re now on the list of my favourite author, Mr. Cleave! I’ll make sure to read Incendiary soon.
wauv – hvilken fantastisk bog! The other hand was translated beautifully into Danish and I was thrilled to read it in two days of this year’s holiday.
It will constitute the gift for many future birthdays I will go to.
it’s been some time now since i read your two books-quite an insufficient term it seems to refer to them-and it already seems a lifetime ago…there are so many of us out there who long for yet another piece of your gift.do not be too long please.
thank you so for showing me a whole new world.
I like your writing style,it seems basic but it had so powerful emotions.Thanks for Little Bee.
I am a visual artist (photographer) and found ‘The Other Hand’ to be one of the most “visual” books I have read recently. Thank you for the experience.
I just want to thank you for Little Bee … I can’t remember a novel that has given me so much pleasure in its writing (I find myself reading a phrase or sentence over and over again just to savour the words and the ideas), and that has affected me so much emotionally and intellectually.
I could not put it down, nor did I want to …. I am almost finished and am getting sad at that prospect !
I don’t know how you can manage to write from a female perspective … it is amazing.
You’ve moved me, touched me, saddened me and opened my eyes to so much. Thank you.
By the way, I am originally from Iraq and visit there regularly for work, and listen to so many stories. I really hope that one day someone could articulate the experiences in as beautiful and sensitive way as you have done.
I want to say “Nice to meet you” ….
I’ve just finished “little bee” . It’s wonderful and effective…Im waiting your new book..We forget the other’s needs, hopes,lifes…( We : people who live in a safely world. The other’s : people who wants to live a safely world ) loves from Turkey
There is nothing I can say that has not been said before in the previous comments. Little Bee just left me without words but full of emotions. I wish I had the ability to write like you to give words to these emotions. Since I don`t I now have to go and ride my bike. So many things we just take for granted…
Discovering a new author is akin to making a new friend- and I am pleased to have found you. Your prose is wonderfully engaging and your command of voice is truly artful. I was mesmerized by Little Bee and cannot wait to purchase Incendiary. Little Bee will no doubt be on our book club’s 2012 slate. Yours is a rare talent and one I look forward to enjoying for years to come. Thank you for writing…please don’t stop!
Now that I’ve read both Little Bee and Incendiary, I am off to find The Other Hand. Please keep writing—although please don’t churn out trash in an effort to do so! Both of these books were so meaningful and it is wonderful to stumble onto an author’s work with such integrity and depth. I look forward to any new work you produce. What a fabulous gift you have!
Read Little Bee last month then just finished Incendiary. Both excellent. I thought, at first, that the police cover up in Incendiary was buying into the fad of conspiracy theories too much but then read the cover article in Time (May 9) about the FBI director who said they pretty much do what Incendiary said the police did about knowing when someone is going to blow up something and then the FBI has to decide when to step in.
Also, just finished Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. His novels are known as protest novels. In a way, Little Bee and Incendiary are also in the same vein. Looking forward to more books. Oh, also saw and very much enjoyed the Incendiary movie.
I love your books, it took me two days to read Little Bee one of the best books, the way you write you lock the person in on the first page, Can’t wait for a new book!!
Both books are true treasures, really. What a refreshing writing style you have. Thank you..
dear mr. cleave,
you are an incredible talent. i have enjoyed both of your books and have passed them onto my friends. we all agree that you
are one of the greatest writers out there.
please, if you would, try to hurry with your third novel because i am waiting for it to be published.
i truly admire your gift for making us think. to me, you are unbelievable.
I spend quite a lot of time at airports and bought your book by chance last year in Istanbul. I just loved “Little Bee” (and was surprised by the fact that you are neither black nor female ). Your book just reminded me that I studied Literature and love reading and simply feel different after reading a good book. It’s like a journey after which you feel a little bit different as if the journey added something to yourself.
So, little bee was a rich journey and I got “Incendiary” to start the next journey right away. Thanks!!! And now? I need more of your writing!!!
Obrigada from Lisbon,
I picked up Little Bee in the airport on a long flight from Richmond to Seattle. I finished it during the flight and as soon as I checked into my hotel I went to B&N and bought Incendiary. I thought I’d read it on my return flight but I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two nights. I’m flying back today and now I’ve to buy another book and oh how I wished you’d a third one!! I’d not make any attempt to describe how your books moved me…….suffice it to say I’m literally haunted by them and I simply can’t get your characters out of my head. It’s that gripping.
I myself try to dabble into writing. I write short stories in my native language Bangla. I’ve published my first book two years back and I’m planning on the second one. Your style, uses of language and selection of storyline/theme are a eye-opener for me. You’re truly an inspiration.
I’m eagerly waiting for your next book which I believe is in the pipeline.
Take care. Best wishes.
I saw you in Cambridge today. I really wish we could’ve talked more but we had to keep the line moving. Anyways, I was just wondering if you had an email or something because I have more things to say to you and ask you and such things like that.
I’ve just finished reading The Other hand. Not only did I enjoy it and feel it was beautifully written, but it has opened my eyes wider and given me the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes.
I write myself, and am in the process of editing the first novel I will try to get published. It’s hard hard work, and I would have given up if it wasn’t such a need in me and the subject matter so close to my heart. I’m so glad you did the work with this book, it’s a really special story and has inspired me to keep going! Thank you. Little Bee is one of the strongest voices I have ever read in a novel, just wonderful.
Also my boyfriend and his family lost a dear friend in the Rwanda Genocide so your story really struck me because of that. So much injustice in the world, what a brave novel you have written.
Many many thanks, kelly.
Thank you Kelly. Very best of luck with your novel. It is hard work, isn’t it? As someone who is currently finishing the fourth rewrite of a novel, I feel your pain! I hope the work goes well & wish you every success with publication.
Very rarely, after reading a novel, have I felt the inclination to immediately visit the author’s website and, well, gush! The weather has been crap in the UK this weekend, so I instead picked up your book (‘The Other Hand’) and read it cover to cover in two sittings. It’s been a while since a modern novel has compelled, moved, humored and enraged me! As a well as the crucial sociol-political issues you picked up on, it was your ability to write so accurately and empathetically from a female perspective and your fantastic sense of humour punctuating horrific scenes that for me makes you a great writer. I literally went from crying one moment to laughing hysterically the next- as a result I think my boyfriend is concerned with my mental health-haha!
Hi Charlotte – loved your message – thank you for that!
Just finished The Other Hand. This book is amongst the few books that has really affected me. It made me in turns angry, sad, frustrated, helpless. I wish everybody in Britain would read it. The plight of the refugee is so well constructed and understood as is the dismissive way we treat our fellow humans. A truly great and important book. Many thanks for your insight.
I listened to “Little Bee” on an audiobook and loved it. The reader allowed me to see the different characters in my mind with her realistic accents. Thank you so much! I’m listening to “Incendiary” now and the reader, although different from the first, is also very adept at helping me picture who is speaking.
I have ordered “Little Bee” to read for myself now. Thank you so much for writing these books. I’ll watch for your new works.
I recently picked up “Little Bee” as a novel to keep me occupied when I chaperoned a high school exchange trip abroad. I figured I would read it on the plane and maybe in the evenings if I was having trouble sleeping. I was not prepared for the true experience of reading your novel. It is not something to be read as a distraction, time-killer, or sleeping aid. It is something to be read and appreciated as a work of art. While staying up late to read more and more did not help my jet lag at all, I feel fortunate to have encountered the characters in “Little Bee.” They will stay with me forever. As we were making our return journey on the plane, I finished the novel and had to ignore the looks from fellow passengers and my high school students as tears kept rolling down my cheeks. The last several pages were an emotional roller coaster (forgive the cliche). A glimmer of hope, followed by heartbreak, and back and forth and back and forth. Thank you for that novel.
I am now half way through “Incendiary” and again I am amazed by what you can do with words to make these characters come alive. I know they’re out there somewhere! I believe I have found a new favorite author. I am (impatiently) awaiting your next novel and just wanted to let you know what an impact you have had on my literary life.
Again, thank you for your talent and your passion.
I just spent most of the night finishing your book ‘the other hand or little bee’. Thank you for reminding me how and why I ended up working in the world of asylum and migration.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Other Hand’, I was then disappointed to find you had written only one other book, ‘Incendiary’. I have read this and am impatiently awaiting another book from you.
I just closed Little Bee after reading the final chapter. I found your book quite difficult to begin – I think I was afraid of what I was going to read – but I was even more upset to have to finish your story, I wanted another chapter (for the sake of goodness I presume). Thank you for awakening me to what is happening outside of my busy world. I feel so useless, I need to help.
Just posted a well done and thankyou on other book pages but wanted to say the same on your home page.
Wonderful writing. I would definately recommend you and in fact am doing so at every opportunity !
After finishing Little Bee this morning, the lump in my throat won’t go away…neither will Little Bee, Sarah, and Charlie! They have become a part of me and I don’t want to let them go. I kept my pen in one hand underlining the hundreds of phrases and passages that resonated with my soul. The words, so beautiful – your message, so powerful.
I can’t wait to explore Little Bee’s impact on the rest of the Book Club next week.
Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us – just judging from the comments on this website, I can see that you have changed lives.
Your books are beautiful and honest and haunting all at once.
But more than anything they made me feel deep and true appreciation for all that I have been blessed with in this world.
You have a gift; thank you for using it.
Dear Chris Cleave, I don’t know why I picked up your book Incendiary at the library but am very glad that I did.
I have also read little bee too – they are both brilliant books and am waiting patiently for your next one to come out!
I truly am afan of yours now – thank you for being such a fabulous writer Chris.
One thing why do yo write as a female?
Hi Jacqueline – thank you – delighted you liked the books. I’ve answered the question about writing from a female POV here.
I am a teenager in high school and was given your book, Little Bee, as a assignment for my Humanities class. All I can say is that I will no longer be reading the trashy books that are considered “teenage” because your book has shown me that books can have meaning and can have an effect on my life personally. It is incredibly well-written and has opened my eyes to a whole new world of literature. Thank You, the story of Little Bee will stay with me for the rest of my life.
More! More! More! You are brilliant.
I´m brasilian and I have just finished Little Bee (in Portuguese version). It is one of the best book I have read for the last 5 years. Thank you.
Hi Taty, I’m so pleased you liked it. Thank you!
I have just finished Little Bee, and was moved in a way only fiction can move a person. I am so greatful to have gotten the this book, for with my studies I haven’t been reading as much for pleasure as I would like. The prose, the characters, everything about this book was so graceful. That you are able to capture a feminine voice without idolizing or patronizing the narrators is refreshing and a pleasure to read. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more of you work! -Sarah
Hi Sarah – thank you!
I am just on page 83 of Little Bee but I had to let you know how much it touches my soul. There is something about the way you express Little Bee’s observations of the world around her and her relationship to it that goes beyond touching the emotions. It stirs the soul. I can’t imagine how a male could be so insightful about the female thought process. I also can’t imagine how a male who is a citizen of the United Kingdom can so clearly perceive the emotions and priorities of an abused (too benign a word) Nigerian girl who is an illegal immigrant in your country!
I simply want to thank you for writing this important book. Every single reader will be enlightened and inspired and therefore moved to act in whatever way they can to alleviate evil in their own world. God bless you and your family! Nancy
I just finished Little Bee. I had to hold myself back from eating the words too quickly. Little Bee left me so … I can’t describe it fully as the emotions are too raw. Thank God for Batman who made “mine” heart smile or I would have been a blubbering mess throughout the story. Anyway, thank you for being true to your calling.
Am reading Little Bee fo the third time (last time for my Book Club) and it gets better each time. It is colourful, vibrant,humourous and poignant. Thank you
I’ve been reading “Little Bee” and I am fascinated by the conversation between Lawrence and Sarah about ten percent on pg. 208 of my soft-cover edition.
I’ve always thought of ten percent in terms of the tithe and it has more recently seemed liked a small amount (speaking in terms of money). However, when you put it in terms of a finger, it seems like a much more difficult sacrifice. And then, when Lawrence says “If everyone gave ten percent, we wouldn’t need to give asylum.” – that rattled around in my head all day! It is the tangible things that are hardest to give.
Thank you for feeding my brain today. I always need food for thought!
Chris, you are a genius writer, “Little Bee” is the best book I’ve ever read; I was in love with Bee & Batman by page 46. While reading at night in bed, in the dark with a little book light, I often found my heart pounding, my emotions screaming for the safety of these characters…an unforgettable journey!
Hi Chris. I’ve never made contact with an author before, but I just had to reach out to you let you know that I can not stop thinking about Little Bee. As a mother of two youngsters, and until very recently, employed full-time, I haven’t had much time to read many novels. How lucky was I that I picked your book up by chance yesterday while on layover in Amsterdam back to the states. I finished the last 20 pages this morning, but I didn’t want it to end. Thank you for this wonderful book. I will be researching the issues in Nigeria to see what I can do to help. (I can easily see your book as a movie!)
Thank you for “Little Bee”. Thank you so much.
Thank you Anna.
i am so enamored with little bee (the other hand) that i am reading it a second time, and even more wondrous images are jumping out at me this go round than the first time. one image that stays (“floats”) with me is in one of little bee’s suicide fantasies, where she imagines stealing an ice-cream van and driving it into the sea; and all that remains “to show that a frightened african girl had ever existed would be two thousand melting ice creams, bobbing in their packets on the cool blue waves.” wow! so very vivid! which got me wondering: have you ever been to nigeria? i have now purchased three more copies of little bee to give to close friends. the way your book makes me feel is meant to be shared.
My favourite line in The Other Hand: ´I couldn´t make myself believe that these were Puffin droppings. This was bat shit.´
The moments of gut-wrenching pathos and double meaning which abound in the novel are just magic to read. I worked in publishing for years (and am now trying to write myself) and I have oceans of admiration for both your novels. Your enjoyment of the process gives them such energy. And your eye for the human predicament, your empathy which runs hand in hand with a brutal honesty, make for such a strong emotional and intellectual journey for the reader. Not to mention the pure joy of your sentences and humour. I hope for many more novels. Tomorrow ten of us will discuss the novel at our book club. I hope you really enjoy the pleasure you give so many people and the raw truths you light upon. I would be a happy woman if I could do what you do!
What an amazing story. And so beautifully written. Both points had me frequently in tears during the two days in which I read your book . I have visited Ecuador several times and am haunted by the parallels to your descriptions of Nigeria. Thank you for your artistry and for your compelling account.
i just got back from sailing the atlantic from Gibraltar, through Madeira to the Canaries. there were 3 of us aboard and we all took turns and read “the other hand”, with the understanding that whoever is reading the book is allowed time off duties so they could be drawn into the magic of it.
thank you for this fantastic book
hi. I read LİTTLE BEE in two days. it’s really wonderfull.I don’t know english very well. but I want to say to thank you…
Thank you very much, Yasemin.
Read Little Bee, LOVED it! Met you in Cincinnati, OH and enjoyed your too brief discussion (remember me? I had the Flat Stanley and we took a picture). Anyhow, I am a fan of the book Little Bee but just finished Incendiary and now, I am a fan of Chris Cleave. Cheers to you, your writing is brilliant!
Hi Michelle, yes I do remember you & Flat Stanley – I hope you are both well. Thanks for your kind words – I’m delighted you liked Incendiary too.
Just finished reading Little Bee – fantastic. So simple and yet so complex. Can’t wait to read your other books – thank you.
Thank you Joe
well im lost for word your book the other hand has truly touched me
im starting the book Incendiary its amazing im cant get my head out the book=D
Thank you Sara
Chris, I have just finished reading both your novels within quick succession of each other, and I was moved by both like I have not been moved by a book n a very long time. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent. I am chomping at the bits for the next book.
Thanks very much, Gerald. I’m writing the new one as fast as I can! I have just realised that I’ve been writing it for about the same length of time that I was at university, which is quite a frightening thought.
Everyone at my office recommended Little Bee, and I couldn’t put it down! Specifically if I could reference what this quote meant to a dear friend of mine who was scared as a child and never has told us her story but I read it to her: “a scar is never ugly, that is what the scar makers want us to think.. We must see all scars as beauty, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I SURVIVED”. She started crying when I shared it with her. Brillant!!! Keep up your great work, cant wait to read Incendiary next!
Thank you Val
Thank you for bringing Little Bee into my life. Curious if you have a schedule posted of where your coming book signings will be? I’m located in D.C. and will follow you on Twitter in the mean time to see if you head this way!
Hi Joanne, I’m going to do quite a few US trips in 2011 I think, and will be posting all details on this website. The first thing I’m doing is two weeks of events in January, and I will put up the details as soon as I have them. Hopefully they’ll send me to the excellent Politics & Prose in DC.
You’re my new inspiration. I’m 17 years old and I’m from Brazil. But I love
England and I love love love London so much. And more, I wish one day study in Oxford University. I’ll be a journalist and I’m an amateur writer. The Guardian is one of my big dreams. I want this, and I’ll get this. Thank you, you’re a bigger exemple for me.
The best wishes.
Thank you Thai – I hope it all works out for you!
I have been a voracious reader since I first learned to read & am now 64. I am so grateful to come across your writing….it is a most heartfelt, honest, compelling and artful way of communicating! You have a breathtaking style that pulls you in to the core of the character(s). Much success is ahead of you if you can maintain your natural gifts in the face of many writers who sign contracts and “sell out”….I’m confident that won’t happen to you!
another new admirer,
Placerville, CA, USA
Thanks Jane! I will do my best.
Little bee. Just I finished now, but I read tukish version translated by Nalan Isik Ceper. It was amazing, I liked alot. I am from Turkey but i am a Kurdish. In my country we have too many Kurdish little bees soo thats why I understood easly. Sincerely yours. Best Regards…
Your book, Little Bee, is being passed around our book club right now and we are all enjoying it immensely. I found it incredible that you were able to create completely believable characters from different races and the opposite gender, but you did. I feel like I know Little Bee and Sarah, and the Batman character really lent the novel a lightness it needed to keep the reader from weeping throughout.
Also, I love the blurb on the back of the book urging readers not to tell others what it’s about. Brilliant!
What a book! What a story!!!
It is absolutely fascinating to find a writer who can actually put down feelings/emotions into words.
You are very good, and a reminder of the fact that there are humans with souls yet on planet earth…
I have found the perfect Christmas gift for everyone!
Will start ordering now…
Thank you for making me feel sane!
It is so rare to find a writer whose talent touches your very soul. Little Bee is a stunning book. I keep wondering how a male writer can write so realistically like not one, but two women. Your voice is a gift. I’m off to buy Incendiary. Please do not ever stop writing.
I have more appreciation for your writing than this comment box could express. I literally savored every page of Little Bee, and cried tears of joy and sadness throughout. Even when I put the book down, it stayed with me, and I found myself talking about it wherever I was. Thank you for writing, in doing so you have created something beautiful to be treasured, and you have shared a message that must be heard. I will continue to spread the message, and I hope you will continue to create. Peace. –Ali, Washington DC
From Bs. As. Argentina, I found “The other hand” somewhere in my apt. I think my ex-flat mate might left it here. I couldn put it down. Grogeous Book. I will pass it around so other ppl can read it as well.
I finished LITTLE BEE yesterday. Thank you for writing such a thought provoking book. I wondered after reading the book, what is the true capacity of the human heart? Mankind needs to focus on the answer.
Chris, thank you for ‘Little Bee’. Reading it has been life-changing. I’ve been drawn for years to work with an organization helping women build small businesses to support peace in conflict-affected countries. After finishing the book, the separation between myself and these women is gone. Thank you for the inspiration to take action.
I just finished Little Bee and cannot stop thinking about it. I read it so voraciously, that I will definitely reread at least some of it. I will echo a previous posting in marveling at how well you expressed your women characters. They were so real and beautifully drawn, so affecting. I thought that as well in Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. Thank you for this thought provoking, fascinating, and disturbing book. If your goal was to evoke deep reactions from the reader, then I believe you achieved it marvelously.
Thank you for writing “Little Bee”, I heard the tail end of an interview about the book on NPR a few months ago, and I knew I had to read it. As a Nigerian-American it was a painful reminder of the brutality/genocide that has taken place, not only in Nigeria, but all throughout Africa.
“Little Bee”, is the voice of the misunderstood refugee/illegal.
Küçük Arı adlı kitabınızı bugün başladım ve bugün bitirdim.Bu olağanüstü ve sürükleyici adeta beni büyüledi.Küçük bir öğle uykusu çekerken rüyamda sanki hikayenizin içindeydim.Sizi bu kalem ustalığınızdan dolayı tebrik ediyorum.
Yeni kitaplarınızı sabırsızlıkla bekliyorum…
Muhammed Mesut AKTAŞÇI-TURKIYE
Absolutely adore Little Bee. A friend of good taste recommended this to me and I was unable to put it down. Thank you for your insight and awakening the better side of my angels. My very obvious question, and one that I am quite sure you hear so often is…do you have another book in the works.
Also, as an aside, what are your thougts of Steig Larsson?
Thank you for sharing your magnificent talent.
Im such a fan of your work.. such a beautiful writer that i cant ever put down your books. I started reading them when i was 15 and 5 years on im still moved by your stories that i have recommended them to my family and friends. Im excited to see what you bring out next and hopefully bless us with a book signing/ appearance soon.
Keep your fans updated!
It’s 2am and I have just finished Little Bee . Like so many others, I have never added a comment to an author’s webpage, and rarely do I look one up. I felt compelled to share my feelings on this beautifully written and deeply moving novel.
Asylum seekers, Refugees, Boat People. This is quite a hot topic in Australia now, “getting tough on immigration” and our political parties are using this to win votes. I wish the rest of our country, as well as the rest of the developing world could see more of the human cost, rather than the cost to the nation. This story, although fiction, I know is held in the hearts of the people that lie in wait in our detention centres. I wish they would read this book.
This book made me laugh. And cry. And think.
Chris, I cannot believe how you capture the essence of what Sarah and Little Bee are thinking as women, written by a man. I am totally amazed at how well you told their story. Your words are very well chosen. I LOVE Little Bee and will now seek your other book!
I read Little Bee when it first came out here in the States. An amazing story told in an amazing way. Truly a remarkable book. Thank you Chris Cleave!
Thankyou Chris for bring this story to our attention. I too looked you up as I couldn’t tell if the writer was man or woman. I loved the dry quirkiness and humour which helped absorb the horror and sadness and absolute idiocy shown by many of your characters. I especially was struck by the immigration guards in the last pages who presumed the English values were greater than others. What naivety and ignorance and arrogance. I just finished this book today and it will stay with me and I will be recommending it to others here in Brisbane, Australia, particularly my Book Club.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Other Hand. And thanks for drawing my attention to the writings of Evie Wyld and Philipp Meyer. Look out for Jacob Ejersbo (Danish author). The first book in his trilogy on Africa will be published in English in 2011.
It was fun to read The other hand. One of my brothers bought it as a birthday present. It’s on my list now when I by a book for a friend or relative.
Keep on writing,
Just finished reading “Little Bee” and I had my eyes opened to the plight of those seeking aslym in another country. The characters in this book jumped off the pages and together they told two stories, that of Sarah and of Little Bee. This book is our book club selection for June and I can hardly wait for the discussion that is bound to be thoughtful, lively and long. Thanks Chris Cleve for bringing us this story.
Very powerful, exciting and touching. I believe this is one of the best books I’ve read by far. Thank you and I hope to see another one of your masterpieces in bookshops soon.
amazing!!!! Thank you for such a wonderful story. I can not wait for the next one.
Absolutely loved Little Bee. Just finished it 10 minutes ago and thought I would find your website. Very fascinating and nerve rattling read. My husband grew up in West Africa and I have traveled to Africa with him twice (Ghana and South Africa). Hope people know to take away from your novel that Africa truly is a beautiful place and worth visiting, just remember to travel safely and intelligently! (Just as with everywhere else in the world). Plus I hope it shines a different light on immigration/immigrants. It’s quite the hot topic right now in the US. Thank you for this fabulous novel! I added Incendiary to my library queue to read next.
I read Little Bee, and didn’t like it, there is something illogical. Lots of details and repetition ! Actually first chapter is amazing that made me go on reading. Generally I read 2 books at the same time and read Little Bee with “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Marquez and understood why he won Nobel Prize.
… am on page 116 of “the other hand”… have to read during the day… to hard to read at night…. you know how to make the reader feel the fear!…
Hi , so i’m a grade 11 student , who just finished reading your book ” Little Bee ” which i thought was amazing . Now i’m told to do a biographical research paper on you, & if you could email me to help me complete this assignment I would greatly appreciate it . Thank you : )
Je viens de terminer votre livre “Et les hommes sont venus” et je l’ai trouvé vraiment extraordinaire. C’est un livre émouvant et d’une grande richesse. Je vais partager cette lecture avec le plus de gens possible. Merci!
The Other Hand has been sat on my desk since I received it as a Christmas present. A recent weekend away allowed me the time to read it, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. An amazing, thought provoking book that I shall be recommending to friends.
Hi! I just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying Little Bee. I am halfway through and I can’t wait to get home to see what will happen next. It is the kind of story that you wish could go on forever and ever. There is nothing like a good book and this is a excellent book. I wondered how you were able to create the character Yevette so well, she is sooo funny. All the characters are great, I love batman.
Anywho, just wanted to say Bravo, I read all the time, so when I come across something new or someone new it is truely a joy. I will be on the lookout for your next project. All the best!!
So nice meeting you last night in Austin. Always refreshing to share writer process war stories. Hope the rest of your tour is enjoyable and look forward to staying in touch.
Phil & Stephanie
I have just finished reading Incendiary and as with The Other Hand, I was completely blown away. Your writing is so beautiful and full of love and yet set against such ugly and hateful events. I have a blog where I also review a selection of books I read, including Incendiary and The Other Hand. I understand you are based in London, are there any events you will be participating in, in the UK?
Am waiting in anticipation for the next installment of Chris Cleave. I can imagine that demand for boxes of tissues have certainly risen since your entry onto our bookshelves!
I’m in the midst of Little Bee and love it. Can’t wait to read Incendiary. Just curious. Why the title change from The Other Hand in US and Canada?
The scene when Little Bee is made to go under the boat while listening to the fate of her sister broke my heart and I had to put it down for awhile and take a long walk. I kept thinking,’I have the luxury of taking a walk away from this horror and heartbreak ….and so many in the world do not’. This book is beautiful and important and reveals both the beauty and the brutality of the world and the people in it. In your author notes in Little Bee you sum it up so well, “…the fact that we can enjoy our freedom while imprisoning and deporting those who ask to share in it-appear in sharp focus through the eyes of the alien narrator”.
This is such a relevant issue in the States right now!
Also, I love Batman’s voice and his little bat world!
Please come to Wyoming sometime….we have lots of beautiful scenery… and plenty of wind, enabling us to read a lot!
I just read Little Bee. I usually race through books but I didn’t want this story to end. I read a few of the last pages over several evenings to savor it. It is very elegantly writte and the story is so compelling. It is a pleasure to read quality books. They are hard to find and yours is one of my all time favorites.
My students asked me recently when I had last read a novel that really made me think differently or made me look in a new way at an issue and I could tell them without any hesitation The Other Hand. Thank you and congratulations, amazing.
Just finished The Other Hand after buying it 3 days ago while waiting for a friend on the Malaga Airport. What an absolutely gem of a novel. I loved it! I have a small hotel in Andalucia an will put it in our guest-library and recommend it to every guest to read!
Just finished The Other Hand, and found it absolutely sublime. So painful and so beautiful all in one. Really really impressed by Chris Cleave’s writing and his ability to make his characters come to life. I saw the whole thing in front of me, as if I was watching a film. Stunning. And very inspirational.
Having just finished reading ‘the other hand’, I want to thank you for publishing such a wonderful novel. Books like this come from a very special kind of inspiration. Yes, and they really do make a difference! Thank you for sharing this gift with the world.
Bright Blessings to you and your future work
PS: Maybe your book should have attached an advisory note that a large box of tissues may be required!!
I am currently reading ‘the other hand’ and looked you up because I couldn’t decide whether you were male or female. That could be a compliment, I suppose…
I like feisty Yevette – maybe her story is worth telling.
The Other Hand is now my favourite book! Just amazing.
Just finished reading The Other Hand and I loved it.will have to read your first one now.J
I have never been a great reader of any book I have always got lost in my own mind when reading -so always miss page after page of the script. Recently I have started to read books I decided to buy 3 books at once and hoped I would get the thrill that other readers get. I would like to thank you for writing incendiary as it captured me from start to end not once did my mind wander- similair to another comment I read from start to finish only to stop to boil the kettle. I felt as if I was part of the story, unbelievable powerful and mindopening story. I have now today bought the other hand and cant wait I,m going to fill my flask when I start reading it, I dont want any interuptions.
Many Thanks for opening my eyes to reading.
John, thank you so much for your comment. Nothing has meant so much to me as a writer, ever.
I bought “The other hand” in April on one of regular book binges. I was given “Incendiary”for Christmas. I read “Incendiary”overnight and started “The other Hand” the next morning. I absolutely loved both books, not only important stories and ideas but beautifully crafted too.
I can not wait for your third novel, hope the children let you write it……….
I bought a book in the airport of Amsterdam, just only because i liked a comments. But when i read it, i realised the power of story,the unbelievable reality and i cried, its the first book i was reading and crying. Loud applause to you Chris, i think your one of the people who cares about others and who really wants to help a world to be better.
I loved it.
But surely someone doesn’t?
Will my last sentence be eradicated or can I believe in uncensored Guardianland readership?
busy reading ‘the other hand’, really a wonderful story, so real it’s scary and so very well written.
ach Chris, you either make me roar laughing or cry. in a good way. that story about the asylum seeker and his son made me pause.
Reading your book “The other Hand”made me realised that there are some people at this present time who can do anything to make this world a better place to live in. Im talking about Sarah, and I felt so sorry for little bee. I live in this country for nearly 9 years and seen things happen but your book at some point can change people’s view. Some British people thinks people left everything behind where they come from just to come over here to live, they come over here because there are problems that is the main reason.
I have read it with so much passion and became addictive to it, when I finished the other hand it made me buy INCENDIARY which im reading now, I always rush home to start reading it, it so funny I even reading it while I’m walking. I fall in love with your writing Mr Cleave. I’ll come back when i finished INCENDIARY and I cant wait for the next one.
Please keep Writing man. Thanks!!!
Picked up The Other Hand to read two days ago (I only have time to read in the evening) and I have already finished it – I usually fall asleep whilst reading in bed but this book kept me awake long after I put the light out. I would go as far to say that it is the best book I have read for a long, long time.. It certainly opened my eyes to the refugee situation and I will not be so critical in future. So thank you, Chris, for a wonderful story…….I will certainly look out for your name on future books. Well done.
I have just reviewed INCENDIARY for a magazine,it is of course enthusiastic in content. An excellent piece of writing on your behalf, completely different, and makes one think. I had a few months previously reviewed THE OTHER HAND, once again with deserved enthusiasm. Thank you for your writing.
Thank you. You really gave me a stunning experience. I just grapped your book by accident from the airport coming back home to Finland from UK and I couldn’t stop reading it. Goes to my personal top 5 list at least. Thank you so much.
I have been an avid reader ever since a child and I can honestly say I have never read a book that has affected me so profoundly as “The Other Hand” did. How is it possible to make a reader laugh out loud while reading the most heart wrenching, fearful story they have ever read?! To quote Little Bee that is a neat trick!
Thank you for taking the time to open my comfortably averted eyes to what is going on for, and in, my own country.
I have rarely read a book with such powerful beginning – I loved the way you introduced your heroins – and the story carried all the way through as well..
Thank you, you book got me away from using my precious time to worry about things less important. Now I need to get my hands on the other one as well… planning to have them translated to Finnish any time soon ?
(I guess a lot would be lost in translation though)
I read constantly and I used to beleive I had read plenty of amazing books – but then I read The Other Hand. This novel has completly changed what it means to be a good book! Every other book I have ever read cannot compare to this masterpiece of yours. Your way with words outstands me. You write so beautifully about such tragic things.
I was standing in Waterstones when I picked up The Other Hand and I began reading it right there in the shop. What you wrote about Little Bee wanting to be a British Pound Coin had me hooked and made me look at the world in such a different way.
I then found out that you had written another book “incendiary”. I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t expect it to be very good mainly because of how good The Other Hand is. I’m halfway through the book now and wow. Yet again you have blown me away with words.
You are by far my favourite author and all there is left to do is thank you for allowing the world to read your wonderful novels.
I think you should strike JB’s comment from this page, he broke the rules and told ppl the story of Little Bee. I checked this book out at my local library because what was written in the book jacket completely had me curious. So, I read and re-read and re-re-read…I love the story. I want to make good things happen now, you have completely changed my feelings on my life, at this point, with this story. Thank you so much for writing something so tragically beautiful. I will be watching for more literature from you Mr. Cleave. Thanks again.
I absolutely loved “The other friend” and have already recommended it to my family and friends. My mum can’t wait for it to be translated in our native language so she could enjoy the story to the fullest. Thank you for your wonderful writing.
I think both of your books are incredible.
I’ve just finished reading “Incendiary”, and I was moved to tears by it – it truly is a stunning book, and I know it’s a cliche, but I really, really couldn’t put it down. The credibility and realism of it, coupled with the deep, raw emotion and pain, was amazing and incredibly engrossing. Very thought-provoking, very powerful and a book everyone should read.
I’m curious as to whether it was written before or after the 7/7 bombings in London. It reminded me of the strange days that followed these attacks – I worked for the Underground at the time and was on duty when they happened. I saw much of what unfolded, and I can vouch for the realism and accuracy of this powerful novel.
Thank you so much for writing it.
Just finished Little Bee. You’ve picked another cause to be involved in. I’ve found another author I enjoy (which brings me bliss). Keep writing!
I picked up The Other Hand in a book shop in Chester while on holiday in the UK, so now it will circulate in Austria, too – albeit only with my English-speaking friends. Lovely, insightful, utterly compelling, incredibly personal and touching…certainly a book which makes you think. I truly believe we need little bees to change the world by chaning our hearts and then minds…Thank you for writing this book, please keep on writing!
Hi Chris –
Just found your book and am only on page 33 – had to stop right now and say – already – this is one of my favorites. Stunning writing, I love this book (Little Bee).
I’ve just read The Other Hand and want to congratulate you not only on a beautifully crafted novel, but on bringing the tragedy of thousands of asylum seekers being wrongly deported and wrongly treated into light in such a personal way. I hope it opens many people’s eyes. Thankyou. x
I finished reading The Other Hand about 1 minutes and 23 seconds ago and would just like to say thanks. Thanks.
I have just finished reading The Other Hand; I bought it because it had a nice cover and was a first edition, I didnt stop to even read anything about it. All i can say is that it was one of the best buys i have ever made. The story is so beautifuly and brilliantly written its an amazing story and each scene is so well decribed and detailed its so easy to imagine being on that beach. The ending it open but finished its a fantastic book I have never read anything like it before and its opened my eyes to a new type of novel. Thank you so much for writting it and im so glad I bought it one of the best inpluse buys ever xx
Hi there Chris,
I’ve just finished reading The Other Hand which we are reviewing at Liphook Book Club next week. Thanks for a fantastic novel and I’m sure we are going to have a very long and stimulating discussion. I think you’re novel is a novel in the true sense of the word. There is something of Balzac I feel somewhere, and that I assure you is a great compliment! It is very well constructed, it certainly stays with you and is very challenging!
Congratulations on the arrival of your daughter, and I hope you are inspired to write more!
I just love it. My friend gave a copy as present.
Thank you for your afford Chris. Bless you. !
I loved this book..(The other hand)…couldnt put it down. I must say it was very clever not to tell what it is about on the book cover. It really intrigued me. It amazed me that a man could write a book with such insight into the female psyche. Can’t wait to read incendiary, battling to get a copy.
I loved this book..(The other hand)…couldnt put it down. I must say it was very clever not to tell what it is about on the book cover. It really intrigued me. It amazed me that a man could write a book with such insight into the female psyche. Can’t wait to read incendiary, battling to get a copy.
Bought The Other Hand at the train station in Paris last Friday. Read it in all the spare moments I could find and have just put it down, amazed at the quality of your writing, concerned that I have been so unaware of Guantanamos existing in our midst and happy that there are people like you to bring us to a global consciousness, that we are all one.
ps: I have always hated petrol companies and have sworn I will not own a car unless they run on solar energy. I now have another confirmation that I am right! Let’s bring them down.
Chris, I picked up ‘The Other Hand’ in an airport bookshop, cant remember where it was now, and made my selection purely on the basis of the cover design. Fickle I know but who has time to read all the blubs!
Anyway dont know that I have ever in all my many years read such a wonderful and moving story, it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I finished it all too soon and immediately handed it to a very good friend with the instruction that he should hand it on as soon as he finished it too. Everyone should read your story.
All I can say is thank you and I wish I had one tenth of your talent.
A good friend of mine went to The Uk for his holiday and came across The other hand. He thought it would nice to get it for me. And now when I have just finished reading it, All I can say is thank you for such a great novel. Actually I did not want to finish it. When I realised there were 10 pages left to be read, I felt a kind of felling, the same when I do not want to finish off a chocolate bar as it is delicious and can not have one more until I get to a shop.
I’ve always enjoyed your slightly bonkers Guardian column.
I picked up “The other hand” and finished it in a day.
Then I saw your column and realised it was you! Batman should have given it away.
Thank you so much for such a subversive story. Its echoes are changing attitudes already.
Just read the other hand and was so moved by it, I couldn’t put it down and before I finished it I went out and bought two more copies for my daughters. Everyone should read this book, we are so unaware of what is done in our name, this book should open our eyes. Thanks
Hi Chris- Just finished ‘the other hand’. An amazing story told in such a clean, deft way.
It challenged me to struggle to understand Nigeria and what it means to HAVE to flee your country. I was paying lip service but really I was refusing to do that.
We’re all scared of pain. Especially of others and your right when you have Little Bee tell us that we refuse to see the beauty in the lives of asylum seekers.
We want comfort and ignorance. We think that they might just keep us safe. It’s hard to blame us. The world is so completely cruel. But all we have is the love of each other and courage.
My eyes are now a little wider open.
I just finished reading Little Bee last night, and it was so amazing. I have never read anything like it. I loved how you portrayed Little Bee and Sara as strong willed females. Thanks for such a wonderful story. I haven’t read Incendiary but I will definitely add it to my To Read List.
I read “Incendiary” last year and it took my breath away. This being so I was very excited to see “Little Bee”. Little Bee’s voice stole my heart away. I don’t know if you ever read “Lullaby’s for Little Criminals” but I suspect you would enjoy it. Thank you so much for these wonderful books.
A quite astonishing novel Chris. The language is so intricate and powerful that I was captivated throughout and enriched by the end. Your name is new to me and I am so glad to have found it. So much of what you write resonates with my early experiences as the son of an ex-pat teacher living in Lahore. The combination of suffering, acceptance, pathos and humour I have always found difficult to describe – you have done it with a stroke of genius. Well done and thanks a million.
Any plans to come to Chicago area on your book tour? Loved Little Bee. Thanks for such a insightful and engaging reading experience.
I have just finished The Other Hand on this beautiful March afternoon. I was supposed to go out and about but I could not leave Little Bee until her story was finished. I think you have made something amazing, and you have inspired me to get back to my writing with the hope and courage to one day tell such an important story like this in such a wonderful way. Many thanks!
I bought “The other Hand” last Saturday. I had read half by Thursday and I took this afternoon off because I HAD to finish it. It is an AMAZING book and it has had a profound effect upon me. The writing is so rich, so potent and visceral. The story is compelling and poignant because of course this stuff happens, is happening in my world now. I am buying 5 copies tomorrow and sending them to friends. Thank you so much for this experience.
Thank you, Sally! I’m really happy you got something out of the book & I hope your friends will enjoy it too.
i am half spanish half english and my life has a lot of stories since i been born…this feb went to see my brother tony in the states after 27 years not seeing him.in madrid airport i brought this book THE OTHER HAND,with out knowing what is was all about.i started reading i feel in love with this book it is so incredible,a mixture of sweet and sour,,,MR CLEAVE i must say thank you for writing this story,when i read it ,i am in the book feeling all those sensations of each person in the story,it is one big story with lots of other stories in it..just like my life….thank you for enjoyable book,,hope my english is good to understand…karola from spain..
Un-put-down-able. I’m recommending it to all my friends. Thank you for a wonderful read.
hi Chris – what an amazing book mate. i borrowed it from a friend and I couldn’t put it down – i literally rifled through it. I loved the female voices (I can’t believe you are a bloke!), the superb writing, the candid humour, the sheer horror and the clash of two worlds. I didn’t want it to end mate and when it did I couldn’t believe it. I re-read the last page several times because, and I have to be honest here, I felt a bit cheated. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I expected some form of closure – one way or the other – I don’t know. Then again perhaps I need to change my thinking and stop expecting predicatable endings. I truly loved your book mate – I finished it a month ago and am still thinking about it. I just felt compelled to write to you and sya thanks for creating Little Bee, Sarah, Batman and Andrew – very special indeed. cheers, Jeff in Australia 🙂
An extraordinary piece of work, in every sense of the word. Moving, insightful, cunning, funny and true. A modern classic (sigh – if only that weren’t an overused phrase). Thank you for the words.
I Finished reading, Little Bee a week ago and started a much different novel days ago. Still…It is this novel (the characters and voices of Sarah and Little Bee) that my thoughts drift to now and again.
Below is my Amazon Vine Review for “Little Bee”.
`The hopes of this whole human world could fit in
side one soul. This is called, globalization.’, December 31, 2008
By J. Becker –
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program ~
Fantastic. Really – fantastic! Do not get discouraged by the slightly slow start, if you are patient, Chris Cleave will reward you with a story that you will think about all day. I had a difficult time staying away from this novel for very long, and it was easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2008.
Living through oil related conflicts in Nigeria, Little Bee has seen things she should not have seen and has survived things she should not have survived, and now she is fleeing from soldiers that want her dead. While running she meets up with vacationing Sarah and Andrew O’Rourke, and a few soldiers, too. This collision of time and fate between Sarah and Andrew and Little Bee, is the foundation that this novel is built upon.
A few years after the beach incident, Sarah and Andrew are both trying to forget about Little Bee as best they can. As Sarah explains on page 98, `There are countries of the world, and regions of one’s own mind, where it is unwise to travel.’ However, the real world and the scariest regions of their minds brake through all of Sarah and Andrew’s resistance when Little Bee makes a ghostly appearance.
Little Bee, is a story that entertains and raises awareness without being preachy and generously spares us the typical and predictable plot lines and the “why of course” ending. It was touching and funny and real. I very highly recommend this novel.
Thank you Chris, great work, please – keep writing!
Chris …as far as boundaries go ..i am from India…reading “the other hand” made me want to read more about you ..and what made you write this book so completely with your soul …. and you have put it so beautifully ..the reason you write ..through the words of DH Lawrence …the situation in my country is right there in those words …and Chris as a reader of your book i can tell you that what you belive is so true …books do change things …keep the faith …love Sohini.
I’ve never written to an author before but then again I’ve never read a book like “The Other Hand”. I can’t stop thinking about it…the light hearted way Chris Cleave brought to life such incredibly deeply embedded, subconscious facets of my life is uncanny. How was so much wisdom courage and sagicity put upon a child of 16 but with such mirth and humour. She could only be a child of another nation, truly remarakable. Let’s hope it’s brought to life many other readers’ subconscious fears and unstated knowledge.
Wow – mind blowing, absolutely fantastic. I have read this amazing book in one day, thank you for writing such a brilliant book that will stay in my mind for ever.
I have previously felt a slight sympathy for refugees Chris, but after reading this novel, I now feel very very strongly that our treatment of them is horrendous. Thank you for such a disturbingly insightful work. On top of that it was a really couldn’t-put-it-down read – bought it yesterday afternoon late, and finished it early this morning.
I just received a review copy of The Other Hand, and have to say that I adore it. Thank you for taking the time to tell such a wonderful story.