Little Bee

“One of the most vividly memorable and provocative characters in recent contemporary fiction… Cleave paces the story beautifully, lacing it with wit, compassion, and, even at the darkest moments, a searing ray of hope.” – Boston Globe

(LITTLE BEE is published in the UK, Ireland and Australia as THE OTHER HAND).

us_jacketLearn more about the real world of refugees, asylum seekers and violence caused by the oil industry.

Read the first chapter of LITTLE BEE

Read reviews of LITTLE BEE

Read a Q&A about why I wrote LITTLE BEE

Go behind the scenes with this reading group guide

479 thoughts on “Little Bee”

  1. Hello! I’m Mark from Philippines and I found your book on bargain shops. I was deeply moved by your book! I liked it very much! I can’t wait to read Incendiary and Gold! Hope I could find your latest book, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven also. Thank you very much!

    1. Thanks very much Mark, glad you liked Little Bee. Hope you’ll enjoy the other ones too. All good wishes!

  2. Dear Mr. Cleave,
    I have just read the book in the library. The story is so attractive that I can’t stop read it. At first, I had no idea about refugee, thank you for writing their stories, let us know more about the world.

  3. Dear Chris,
    I had to read Little Bee at school and I just finished reading. Would you like to tell me where you first got the idea to write about immigration? And where you got the idea of a Nigerian girl and all these details about her journey?
    I wished for a happy end and I’m still in doubt about the ending, if it was a happy end or not. What did you intended with this end?

    Greetings from Luxembourg.

    1. I had to read the book in school as well, when we talked about the ending we kind of discovered something? The name she choose for herself London sunshine had a heavy start but a light ending as she described it and maybe that is the same with her story a heavy start but a light ending , because she also talked a lot about how scars are beautiful they mean you survived so you can tell their story. I think she made it.

  4. Mr. Cleave.
    I just wanted to tell you that your book, little bee (or the other hand as it is called in other areas) changed my life. I was given a copy of this book at a college orientation club fair and initially, I just saw your book as a free gift. When I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I put myself in the place of little bee and was suprised to discover how quickly her life becme my own. This book was by far the best I had read. I was also shocked to learn that this had not yet been made into a film. I would just like to say that you are a brilliant man for writing this book. If ever Little Bee is ready to be immortalized in film, you shall see me as the first in line to audition for her role.

  5. Finished Little Bee and loved it! My concern is the lower case usage of the word “god.” I found it at least thirteen times in your book as a lower-case word and five times used with an upper-case letter. The only times I found it with a capital letter was when the word “God” began a sentence. One sentence reads, “My God, my god why hast thou forshaken me?” Help me to understand if this was an editing mistake or if you intended God to be written in lower-case. As a teacher, I instruct my students that if the word God is used in referrence to a pagan god than it is used with a lower-case letter. Was this an editing oversight or the way you wanted it printed? Help me to understand why it was like this throughout the book. Thanks

  6. Chris Cleave, I would never have chosen a book with that title or that cover, “Just another….” but my library book club “had” to read it. What a loss if I had not read it. I am a lit
    professor, and love to read books that have both intellectual and human understanding AND a good story WELL TOLD. I never ever wanted to put it down. Thank you, also, for handling a woman narrator, actually two women, so believably. I keep wondering, how did he DO it? Thanks. Dr. Helen Bonner PhD Lit and Communication California

  7. I read this book in 2009 and it remains one of my favorites of all time. I also read and enjoyed Incendiary and Gold. Please tell me you are planning to write another soon!

  8. I just started reading this book, however; I am amazed at the talent of Mr. Cleave. To write not only from a female perspective, but then the perspective of a woman from a differing cultural background is amazing. I am rapidly falling in love with the female Nigerian character who’s name has not as of yet been divulged. Thus far my favorite choice of words from the book are: (In reference to the English language) “Every word can defend itself. Just when you go to grab it, it can split into two separate meanings so the understanding closes on empty air.” What an eloquent way to describe the difficulty of the English language due to the offshoot of slang words that encompass it.
    The dedication page is for Joseph in this book. I had a very special Joseph in my life who was as colorful as this character. For all of these reasons I think that this will be a book that I will cherish and share for many years to come.

  9. Little Bee – surprising and beautiful, as you had hoped, Chris. And I enjoyed it, also as you hoped, according to the letter you left at the end of Little Bee. Though a painful story at times, the process of reading the book – so graceful, spare, and “undramatic” while telling of dramatic, even cataclysmic life events, made it a deeper experience, touching both my assumptions and my heart – and that makes it, for me, an enjoyable read.
    And oh my – learning her name – Udo – the scene with Charlie was so sad, so hopeful, and so filled with tenderness and love…and peace, yes, I got that… That scene will stay with me, saving me from imagining the scenes “after.”
    Little Bee was my introduction to your work, so I will now go with pleasure to buy all of your books. Thank you for your dedication to your craft, and thank your family for all the ways in which they help make it possible for you to write.

  10. Loved Little Bee and am hoping there is news regarding it being made into a movie? Have also read and thoroughly enjoyed Incendiary and Gold. Looking forward to reading your next masterpiece Chris! All the best.

  11. Dear Mr. Cleave,

    I am a senior high school student at Newton High in Newton, Kansas. Several of my classmates and I recently read Little Bee for a AP English class and have a few questions for you if you don’t mind answering.
    How did you come up such an interesting story line? What ever happens to Lawrence? Do the soldiers end up killing Little Bee or just taking her into custody.
    We all very much enjoyed reading Little Bee and would definitely recommend it to fellow peers. It portrayed everything clearly and shined a little light on to problems we tend to ignore.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Alyssa

  12. I recently re-read Little Bee, after reading it several years ago. Your book changed my life. I am a lawyer in the US, having no prior immigration experience. After reading Little Bee, I began handling asylum cases on a pro bono basis. The first case I was assigned involved an African woman who had escaped horrific torture and persecution for her work helping rape victims. She was forced to leave her children and husband behind. My favorite day as a lawyer in almost 25 years of practice did not take place in a courtroom-but in an airport watching my client’s four young children come through International Arrivals. She had not seen them in almost two and a half years. I thank you for writing this extraordinary book- I know it has touched so many lives around the world. My very best, Leslie

  13. Dear Chris,

    I started reading The Other Hand when the book was released and could not stop reading it! I cried a lot too. Then, I greedily read every new book and felt exactly the same when I read them. I really really tried not to read them too fast as I want to enjoy them as much as I can, but this is a real challenge. How can you write such moving, intelligent and beautiful stories that you cannot forget once it is finished? This is truly a rare gift.
    I am really looking forward to reading your next novel. I have already fallen in love with its title!
    Thank you for writing so beautifully and for relentlessly challenging the reader.
    A French reader,
    Best regards,
    Hélène

  14. Hey Chris! I will be sending you a letter here soon, and I was wondering where I should send it to.. Should I just send it to your publisher, or should I call and get info on where to send it?
    Thanks!

  15. I just finished reading Little Bee – picked it up off the shelf, not knowing anything about it. It was amazing, thought provoking, warm, sad and haunting all at once. It was also a great story! Now I’m gonna have to get my hands on a copy of “Incendiary”.

  16. Thank you for writing! You were born to be an author. I read “Little Bee” first without knowing about “Incendiary” and I couldn’t put it down. “Incendiary” was also just as amazing. Your ability to write in so many different voices and to give them an entire world, it’s truly incredible. I’ve also read “Gold” and I just hope you have another novel coming out soon, as I would love to hear more from you. So thank you for being my favorite author!

    1. Hi Dallas, thank you – I am very grateful to you for reading all of my books, and for your very kind comments. Since you ask, I do have a new book coming out! It is called EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN and I think it will be published in early 2016. I hope you will enjoy it. I have tried to go to a new level with it, and you can be the judge of whether I have achieved that or not. I hope the novel will be very immersive for its readers – it certainly pulled me into its world for the last couple of years. Thanks again for what you said – it means a lot to me.

  17. In two more days I will begin your book L.B. with a group of college students at Geneva College here in Western Pa. This is an overtly Christian college and I am thrilled to use your book as a way to examine evil in our world…Now that I am 63, yours is a book that I WISH someone had made me read in college…thanks for your work…the adventure for me begins!!!!

  18. I found a copy of “Little Bee” in a used bookstore. Excellent writing and the story pulled me in from the first sentence. I’ve never had a book “haunt me” like this one has. The graphic description of her sister’s death continues to play in my mind. I was bitterly disappointed with the ending. It seemed so wrong to keep the reader hanging and never knowing what happened to Little Bee. Maybe this is what the author intended, but I have no desire to read more books by Chris Cleave. If all his books are an emotional roller coaster that leave the reader hanging in midair, then I’m not interested. I invested too much emotional energy into Little Bee to never know what happened.

    1. Hi Jeanne, thank you very much for reading the book. I’m so sorry the ending left you unhappy. My idea when I write is that I try to create a very intense energy in the character, which I attempt to transfer from the page and into the life of the reader at the end. I find that if I close the book too neatly, the energy is trapped in the book instead of transferring to the reader. (Sorry if this sounds a little esoteric!) Mine is quite an experimental approach to ending novels, and it doesn’t always seem to work. Sorry if it left you unhappy – that isn’t my intention. All good wishes – Chris.

  19. Hey Chris, I just want to say that your book was not only moving, inspiring, and believable, but encouraging as well. the intricate detailed description in which you allowed the story of Little Bee to unfold is nothing less than a work of genius. What I enjoyed most was the clever way you were able to transition from the story of one female character to another. I chose the English course I am now taking to hopefully enhance my ability as a writer. I have to say that reading your creative work in Little Bee is truly a bonus . Well, I don’t want to keep raveling on so I will end my comments by simply saying thank you for an inspirational job well done. Best wishes on future works.

  20. Dear Chris Cleave!

    I’ve just read Little Bee as a school-project, and I’m really happy that I chose that book!
    I love the book about Little Bee and Sarah! And I love the way you write! 🙂

    For my project I just wondered:
    -What was your inspiration for Little Bee
    -And I’ve also read that you grew up in Cameroon in Africa, and I just wondered if you got some inspiration from the time you lived there?

    Best regards from Ingrid, from Norway!

  21. Hello Chris,

    I read Little Bee a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it very much, but what those monsters did to Little Bee’s sister on the beach still haunts me , it was so graphic!! Also I think it is a shame that the story ended “up in the air”so to speak. Not knowing what happened to Little Bee when the soldiers took her away and what Sarah did afterwards is frustrating.

  22. Caro Chris Cleave,
    Desculpe por estar escrevendo essa mensagem em português, o que dará um certo trabalho para você traduzir, mas é que acabei de ler Pequena Abelha e estou tão maravilhada e emocionada que não me senti bem em elaborar o meu texto em inglês. Acho que também preciso aprender um pouco mais de sua língua para isso. =)
    Bem, eu só queria agradecer pelo belíssimo livro que você escreveu. Pequena Abelha me proporcionou pensar tão alto e me entragar para uma aventura. Foi o começo de ano perfeito. A partir dessa história eu me sinto diferente. Em vários momentos eu me indetifiquei completamente, o que me surpreendeu muito. Pequena Abelha me fez ter vontade de escrever, conversar, debater sobre o livro e recomendar essa história tão bonita.
    Muito obrigada, Chris
    Ter pessoas como você nos contando história como essa é uma dádiva.
    Abraços de sua mais nova fã. Diretamente do Pará, norte do Brasil.

  23. I’m a Nigerian in Nigeria just reading Little Bee. Lovely book it is. One of those books you read and keep in your safe deposit box in a bank. Good job Mr Cleave!

  24. Hi,
    I just finished Little Bee a couple weeks ago. I am curious to why it its not on sparknotes. But I loved it. Everything was perfectly portrayed. My friend is Nigerian and it was great to discuss this novel with her. I am looking forward to reading your other novels.

  25. Mr. Cleave,

    Both my friend and I read your book. I loved it! Upon finishing this book both my friend and I have come to some arguments. The main argument we have with each other is the outcome of Udo. On the very last page your book talks about how Udo is watching Charlie play and she is laughing until she can’t even hear the crashing waves behind her. I thought for sure that these soldier were their to kill her. My friend thinks otherwise.

    So, Mr. Cleave, my friend and I were wondering what, in fact, you were alluding to, whether Udo lives or dies.

    Thank you so much,

    Nick Hopkins

  26. I’ve just started reading Little Bee for the second time in anticipation of sharing it with my Toastmaster’s Group. Given an assignment to present a 12 to15-minute reading, I considered lots of excellent writers, but settled on your work because I couldn’t think of anyone else who triggered such a breathtaking range of emotion, making me laugh and cry…in the same paragraph! Though it will be challenging to do justice to your writing, it’s absurdly easy to find a good selection. I opened chapter two at random and struck pay dirt…quite literally. Thank you for writing with such heart.

  27. Thank you Mr. Cleave for the amazing book. It was really touching. I loved the Batman( Charlie ) and Udo. The two were my favorite. But as I read the story, it seemed a bit complex with the oil conflict. I wasn’t quite sure with it. But still, the book was amazing. Thank you so Much.

  28. Loved the book Little Bee. Can’t wait until it comes out in a movie. What a talented writer . I have also read your other books.

  29. I downloaded LITTLE BEE randomly as I was trying to figure out how to work my Kobo e-reader – I’m so glad I did. I can’t remember the last novel I read that drew me into the characters’ lives the way your novel did (I’ll be thinking about Little Bee and Batman for a long time to come). I’m a Canadian kids’ writer, and your mastery of your craft leaves me wondering how I ever thought I could be a writer. My first novel, A HARE IN THE ELEPHANT’S TRUNK, is the fictionalized story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Jacob Deng, who is now a Canadian citizen and a friend of mine. I can’t wait to read GOLD. Thank you so much for sharing your talent.

  30. I give The Other Hand five stars. It’s tragic, it’s funny, it makes you think. It captured me. One of the books that was hard for me to put down after I started reading.

    Thank you.

    Ebaa

  31. Hi Chris. The Other Hand made a profound impression on me and it was so nice to talk to you about the book at the Copenhagen book fair…less than 24 hours after finishing reading it. Looking forward to reading Gold.

  32. to said that Little Bee was just a book that it was given at college, it will be a lay. I love it, and even though my whole class is using other stories and other authors for their research papers I choose Little Bee. This book was amazing and I can say how easy was to follow. I felt every little piece of this book… And I will say it, I cry, I cry like a baby!!
    Chris your work is unbelievable! please keep writen….

    Loves from Argentina

  33. A great read. Is this based on real refugee’s time in a detention centre and subsequent release without papers. It seems so realistic, although I hate to think that refugees are treated so inhumanely. We in the west cannot come close to imagining how so many others suffer, can we?

  34. I am half way through reading “Little Bee” and am really enjoying it and the style of writing from the two main characters. I was wondering how much of the Nigerian refugee’s life in the UK initially is based on fact. It seems very realistic, but horribly inhuman. I am glad this book was recommended to our book-club.

  35. Mr. Cleave, having just read Little Bee you awaken me again to the plight of the Mexian and other illegal immigents to the US. It is a sad day knowing how the average citizen looks upon these folks and it is these folks that harvest our crops and roofs our houses and does all kinds of work the average white person runs from.
    I am grateful for the talent you have as a writer and to give us the beautiful stories of Little Bee and Gold. I am on to the next book Incendiay as quickly as possible. I will look forward to the movie

  36. mr cleave-

    Little Bee was amazing! i am so glad i read it, and thank you for writing such a fantastic book. This book has made a difference in my life, and my view on things, and i hope to read some of your other books.

    again, thank you.

  37. I just finished your book Little Bee, i immediately went to the internet to find out about the movie. When will it be out?

    1. Hi Kia – glad you liked the book. The movie is making progress, and I will post the info here and on Twitter when it comes out – sorry I don’t know more at this stage!

  38. when will we ever learn , I was asked to carry out a feasibility study by a bio oil company, they promised a future and hope to the poorest people with no intention of fulfilling those promises …you see their aim was to collect world grants . The awful thing was it actually was feasible, for my part i realised this early on and bowed out of the programme .
    Your portrayal of your main characters was heart wrenching , as a novel i congratulate you, as a thought provoking piece again i congratulate you
    I truly hope one day there will be globalisation .

  39. Mr Cleave,
    ı am from Turkey, I am lawyer here..
    I have just finished Little Bee.. I want to watch the movie of Little Bee.. It will be really greate!
    many thanks..

  40. I usually give a book 50 pages to grab my attention. Little Bee had me hooked from the first sentence. I finished it in one day. I loved the way it unfolded in layers, answering all of my questions.

    My book club will discuss Little Bee next month. Is there a message you would like to send to them? Is there one point that we shouldn’t miss?

  41. I was in the airport yesterday and was looking for a book to read that was NOT crime driven/suspense ( Grisham,Patterson, etc) and how lucky I was to find your book in the middle of all these crime dramas!

    what a fantastic read- finished it in 1 night.

    I was sure this had to be made into a movie- BUT after checking google I have found its not! When will this movie come out?

    thanks for a enjoyable book (although a little sad).

    Joe

  42. Started reading Little Bee yesterday and was consumed! Just finished reading it this morning. It was an incredible book and I, too, feel that I have found my new favorite author. Am anxious to pick up Incendiary and Gold. Is there any word on Little Bee the movie yet – what a challenge that would be!

    If I ravish Incendiary and Gold as I quickly as I did Little Bee I will be lost so, please, stop reading this and get busy!!

  43. I read Little Bee in 2007 after it was given to me by a 70 year old white lady in my scrabble club (I am a Nigerian) in Johannesburg. I thoroughly enjoyed it but somehow felt that the book was “unfinished.” Reading your interview in Writers Digest now, I realize that the “incompleteness” that I felt then was intentional.

    I will certainly get your other books because reading your interview, I find you intriguing and genuine, neither fluffy nor shallow. Not another writer “out to make a quick buck.”

    I wish you greater success in your subsequent works.

    1. Hi Ike – Thank you – I’m delighted you enjoyed the book and I’m very grateful for your comments. All good wishes to you.

  44. I just finished reading Little Bee and thoroughly was engrossed in it. It is an excellently written book. I have ordered all of your other books becasue I am convinced you are my favorite writer.

  45. Dear Mr. Cleave:

    I just finished reading Little Bee. I absolutely loved the book. I kept seeing the book around, heard about it on NPR radio in Oklahoma and just kept having this yearning to read the book and now I am so grateful I did. This book had sp much substance and although you say it was fictional it still had some truth (i.e. the genocides of Rwanda). I don’t want to take up too much space but I just wanted to sat Kudos and please give us a part 2 so we can know the outcome of Little Bee, Sarah and Batman (cutest character EVER).

    Nikka
    Dallas, Tx.

  46. Chris

    Just finished Little Bee. My wife’s friend recommended it to her so she bought it and she was just too slow to start it. I grabbed it and was engrossed. The character development was so very personal. The beach, village, jungle, house and yard settings were so visual. Great job. I have already recommended the book to several people. Incendiary next!

    Frank

  47. Hi chris cleave.
    I live in turkey.
    I finished reading your book now, little bee. and really liked it. I do not regret to have read this book. and I want to read other books. I’m glad to know. I wish you continued success…

  48. chris,
    ı have read little bee recently.thank you so much for this success.Because understanding people is very important issue.especially knowing a refugee’s life teach us a lot thing about life and about sacrifice.we can again understand that in this book everyone has good sides by their bad sides.if we solve everyone’s goood sides ı hope that world will be wonderful.congratulations to you…

  49. Dear Chris Cleave, please help me to understand- I am not sure I read the end correctly. Does Little Bee die (is that inferred by your ending) or will she live on under Sarah’s protection? You seemed to imply that “globalization” was her subsuming her life into Batman’s life and the soldiers on the beach were ready to kill or at least take Little bee away. But surely that is not really the end, it’s so tragic- or did you want it that way because it is “more honest”? I just finished your book two hours ago after reading it pretty much straight and can’t stop thinking about it!

    Beautiful novel.

    Angelina
    PS I understand you wouldn’t want to put this comment on the website since it could be seen as a “spoiler” even if I’m embarrassed to say I don’t actually know what happened in the end myself!

  50. Dear Chris Cleave, Thank you so much for Little Bee. I just finished reading your wonderful book. I love learning about the world, but I don’t read newspapers because there is so much in the world that is awful and sad, and I don’t want to be constantly depressed. I am still crying because your book is so sad and tragic and hopeful and compassionate all at the same time. The violence is terrible, but you offer hope and compassion from and to and for each of your characters. And you have a son who was perhaps your inspiration for Batman. How magical is that! You have added immeasurably to my life and what I am able to face in the world. I am running to buy your other books. Thanks again and please keep on writing. Best regards to you and your family.

  51. hi Chris,
    I have to say that even though i just started to read your book “little Bee” I can tell that by just reading the first two chapters that it is going to be a very intresting novel. You see, I have to read this book as for a school assignment but im glad that my teacher gave me this novel, it’s so good, the novel, that even though I know I have to give it back to the school I have gone out to buy myself my own copy. And also I also haven’t read anything about when a movie is being made.??

  52. Hi Chris, I’ve just returned from visiting a young Nigeria man who is in detention in London after he was accused of witchcraft and trafficked to London to act as a drugs mule. Visiting him in hospital with his three “Reliance” security guards made me think of you and your writing. His story is truly terrible and highlights a complete failure of the state to uphold his rights. We are currently looking to work with some media contacts to highlight the plight of people accused of witchcraft and trafficked. The campaign would be seriously bolstered by your support. Please let me know if you would consider this. We would be very grateful for any support. Best wishes, Gary Foxcroft – co-founder and director, Stepping Stones Nigeria
    p.s. I have spent many an hour on Ibeno beach so really did empathise with that part of the other hand!

  53. Dear Mr. Cleave-
    I’m writing to you from the state of North Carolina, where I live and work, and where an amendment that hurts many families in NC was just passed. I just finished reading “little bee” in preparation for my book club discussion next week and your ending image of Charlie running on the beach with the Nigerian children resonated with me in a way that was hopeful of a different future ahead for my 3 year old daughter. Off to sign a petition to repeal ammendment one and then order your first book… Thank you for introducing me to little bee. Eager to read more of your work.

    1. Hi Christina – thank you for your comment. I’ve been following the progress of the NC amendment. Good on you for signing the petition to repeal it. Here in the UK there is a similar ongoing struggle to get equal marriage rights for gay people. It’s horrible how much resistance there still is. I think you’re right that there can be a better future for our children’s generation. It’s an area that I think I’m going to write about at some point.

  54. I am reading Little Bee, a fantastic book! I read that a movie is being made. Is it out yet? I was disappointed that I could not find mention of it anywhere.

    1. Hi Suzanne – I’m glad you liked the book – thank you. Yes, there is a movie being made – it’s in development at the moment. I will post news of it on this site as soon as it comes in.

  55. Mr. Cleave,

    I’ve read both Little Bee and Incendiary, and I enjoyed both texts immensely. I’m very excited to see a new book on the way! Little Bee is such a rich text that I’m currently writing a paper about it for a graduate seminar final (I’m working on getting my master’s in English, and I’m particularly interested in post-colonial literature and theory). In part of this paper, I discuss reviews of the text to illustrate how an average readership has been responding to the very deep issues that you take up in the novel. I’ve come across many responses from both the UK and the U.S., but I am wondering if you have a Nigerian readership as well and would love to know if you’re familiar with how Nigerians may have responded to your book. If you have the time to get back to me concerning this, I would really appreciate it.

    Again, I think you’ve done great work with your novels, and I’m looking forward to Gold!

    Best,

    Jessie N

  56. Hi,
    I heard there will be a movie coming out on Little Bee and I was wondering if you are going to change the ending or not? Also what do you think would be the challenges in making the movie, such as having two narrators, having to go back and forth to the past and present and as well as the places you are going to film at?

    1. Hi Suzy, yes, there will be a film of Little Bee. I don’t have a say in what they do with the ending, although I think if they’re good they won’t need to change it. You’re quite right that the dual narrative and the novel’s somewhat cavalier attitude to time are difficult things to translate into film. I’m delighted that isn’t my job! I’m quite illogical and impulsive when it comes to writing. My strength as a writer is probably a willingness to research my characters more deeply than others might, and then to focus very hard on creating their characters on the page. For me, the plot and the structure are secondary to that, but in film they have to be primary. Novels and films are as different from each other as octopi and aircraft.

  57. Hello. I was just wondering when you wrote Little Bee what age group were you intending would read it?

    1. Hi Robin – thanks for your question. I never have an audience or an age group in mind when I write. I try to tell stories in the most engaging and direct way I can, as if I was speaking them aloud to a group of people who might get bored & wander off if I lost concentration and let the narrative become dull. I’m quite surprised about how diverse the readers of my books turn out to be. I’ve had messages from people in their nineties, and from people in their early teens. I don’t think my work is suitable for very young people due to the occasional profanity and violence. I wouldn’t be happy for my own children to read my stuff until they were well into secondary school age.

  58. I have just finished reading Little Bee and I loved it. When I was reading the book, I read it has if I were watching a movie and said to myself that Chris should make this into a movie. I was very glad to hear that there will be a movie made from the book. Good luck and make the viewers proud. I know that this will be a great movie. Is there going to be a part two of Little Bee?

    1. Hi Hope, thank you for your kind words – I’m looking forward to the movie too. I’m not sure if I will write a sequel to Little Bee. On the one hand, I would enjoy exploring how Little Bee’s relationship with Sarah changed as both women grew older. On the other hand, I am changing as a writer and there are themes I get excited about now that would not have interested me three or four years ago. I think that novelists revisit old characters at their peril – there’s a fine line between renaissance and regression.

  59. Dear, dear Chris, I was in London November 2008. staying at the Kensington Close Hotel. Your novel alerted me to immigration conditions and issues in the UK which reminded me of a true immigration narrative that Haitian writer wrote about her uncle’s death caused by the inhumanity in a Miami, Florida detention center right here in our “united states.” I was reminded of this once I read your novel whose haunting theme of the masks we wear just like Charlie! I am also reminded of the “detention center for immigrants” I recently visited in Israel– I call them the holding pens” for newly arrived Ethiopian Jews. I was able to ask a question of a so-called well known black African American expatriate while I observed a lesson. The Ethiopian teacher claimed he did not know who I was talking about. (I got the feeling he was too scared to tell me he had heard of Ben Ammi Ben Israel” I will be right there when the movie comes out.
    I love your feminine voice–Carl Gustav Jung would have loved it too, showing the power of individuation!’
    I think “Little Bee” also had a lot of “The Secret Life of Bees” in her (metaphorically that is)

  60. You are my new favorite author! I found you from seeing the movie, on Netflix, Incendiary, which was “superb”!!!!! then I saw in credit that it was from a book, so off I went immediately to my library(online first) and saw both your books and requested both, I absolutely loved Incendiary, could not put it down, even after watching movie, it was just great, loved all the characters, and the writing, now I have just finished Little Bee, what can I say, another great read, I am still in awe, thank you for giving me such reading pleasure, can’t wait for another. Keep up the great work! My best to you and your family

    1. Hi Irene – thank you very much – I’m delighted you liked the books! I have a new one out in a few weeks’ time, called ‘Gold’, which i hope you will enjoy too. Best to you and yours also!

  61. Dear Mr. Cleave,
    Four days ago I purchased “Little Bee” at the airport while enroute to a vacation. Thank you for both a work of art and also for opening my eyes. I can’t stop thinking about it and wanted to let you know it has made me desperate to make a difference! As a mother of two children, I struggle with the responsibility of how I can teach them how important it is to not only do well in school, but also to “do good” in life. Little Bee will be a wonderful tool someday when they are old enough to appreciate it. I am saving this book for them and will give it to them when they go on a holiday some day. Thank you for your talent as a writer and for teaching me about a subject I would have otherwise known nothing about.

    Best regards,
    Carol Ann

    1. Hi Carol Ann, thank you for your very kind comment. I’m glad you found the book useful. I also struggle, as a parent, to strike the right balance for our children. When it comes to teaching them humanitarian values, my problem is that I’m not great at practicing what I preach. Which is a problem, as I think children respond best to leadership by example. It’s one thing to write a book in support of a better world; it’s much better to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’, as Gandhi put it. To be a good parent, as I’m sure from your note that you are, is the most important work anyone can do.

  62. It is rare that a book moves you and changes the way you think and view life- that is what Little Bee has done for me. My favorite book- ever! (I love historical fiction.) I have recommended it over and over…and will keep on recommending it. Little Bee’s character is so unlike my rural Kentucky upbringing, but I fell in love with her heart. And it changed mine. Thank you for writing such an inspiring book. Can’t wait to read more…

  63. We really have no idea do we in the western world? Gosh what an empotional journey The Other Hand take you on. I don’t think I have been so moved by a character in a book, Little Bee is so full of sorrow, fear of the horrors she has seen yet joyful, kind & clever. You are an insightful man Mr Cleave, you have captured the very best and worst of all of us. Thank you.

  64. OMG! TODAY I finished Little Bee and what to say But It is freakin amazing! I used to read it in the morning while riding the bus to school , in the afternoon and before i slept under the Lamp! There are moments when I felt shocked, Happy, pleased, scared and sad!
    Perfect Storryyy!
    Cheers to Batman xx

  65. I just finished reading Little Bee and I need only one word to describe it:Marvellous!!.
    This is the best book I have read in a long time. I might be fiction but it is closer to reality then most people would think.
    I am looking forward to read another book from you!
    Kindest regards

    Mieke

  66. Thank you so much for replying – I really appreciate it. Looking forward to reading your next book
    My best regards,
    Valerie Clapham

  67. Dear Chris,
    We will be discussing your book on Tuesday, April 3rd on our radio book group. (We broadcast for blind and vision-impaired listeners.) I would love to be able to tell our listeners whether you know if your book “Little Bee” has changed, in any way, conditions for refugees in detention centers ofrat least caused people to discuss this issue. I know we are going to have a great discussion and we think your book is beautifully written. Thank you for writing about an issue of such great importance, not just in Britain, but in many other countries around the world.
    My best regards,
    Valerie Clapham

    P.S. Apologies for posting this questions twice, as I saw one can post questions to you on another web site via video – just eager to get an answer for Tuesday if possible.

    1. Hi Valerie – many thanks for discussing the book on your program. I don’t think my novel has changed anything for refugees in the UK or elsewhere – it’s probably pressure on specific issues from serious journalists such as Caroline Moorehead and Paul Lewis that embarrasses government into correcting the worst inhumanities of the detention and deportation system. I do think a novel can get people interested in an issue, though, and help them to see it from a human angle rather than an ideological one. I think that’s a good thing to have in the mix when people are forming their opinions. And I do know that “Little Bee” has got a lot of people talking about asylum and detention issues. Whether people make the transition from talking to militating for change is up to them. I’m always pleased when they do.

  68. Dear Chris,
    Thank you for the gift of Little Bee. Having lived in (East) Africa, Europe and the United States, you have created authentic characters and perspectives. The book was moving and you made it easy for the reader to feel compassion and move back and forth between the characters. I’ll be thinking about your moving story for some time.
    All the best,
    Cindy

  69. Hello Chris! I loved your book and I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about the background of Yevette, as I am writing an article on translations of speech paterns and linguistic registers. Thank you so much.

    1. Hello Cristina, the character of Yevette is a refugee from Jamaica, and her life experience is based on testimonies that I read while researching the refugee experience. It’s relatively unusual for someone from Jamaica to arrive in the UK as an asylum seeker, but it does happen. In terms of how I represented her speech in the text, I didn’t have any formal system for doing it. I just listened to a lot of Jamaican English – here where I live in London and also via internet radio from Kingston Jamaica – and I tried to reproduce it on the page. It was quite difficult to know how to do that. Jamaican English is different from other Englishes in that it has signature pronunciation, distinct idioms, additional vocabulary and distinctive syntax – however, it isn’t a separate language, like French, that one might represent on the page in italics. I had the same issues when representing Nigerian English, and in my first novel ‘Incendiary’ representing an East End register of British English. I just try to listen hard and represent what I hear as best I can on the page. Hope that helps, and good luck with your article.

  70. Chris,

    I just finished reading Little Bee for a book discussion group at the library. The characters are so real and it was difficult to put it down. There are many issues to ponder. Thank you for writing such a memorable book.

  71. Hello Chris,

    I have read your book and really enjoyed it. One of my friends recommended it to me, I usually pick my own books, but that time i took her advise and it didn’t disappoint me. I am looking forward to reading “Gold”.

  72. I just read your book in my Lit&Comp class. I absolutely loved it. Thank you for writing!! I am glad I didn’t pick a different book. Can’t wait to read more!!!

    1. Hi Hannah – thanks very much! Delighted you liked it. I’ve a new one coming out in July called ‘Gold’ – hope you’ll enjoy that too.

  73. I was wondering how I could learn more about you book. I’m writing a paper that compares Little Bee to the movie The Secret Life of Bee’s and need some information on how the people reacted to Little Bee while she was staying with Mrs. O’Rourke.

    1. Hi Preston, thanks for your enquiry. I’m not sure exactly what information you need but if you can let me know, I’ll try to help.

  74. Dear Mr. Cleave,
    I just emerged from the world of Little Bee and Charlie and Sarah. Somehow a chunk of my heart remains on the shoreline, lingering in the heartbreak and hope that your novel stirred inside me. It seems simplistic to say that you are a talented writer with and eye for nuances of the despair that consumes us and the ties that bind, but hopefully you will understand. My own son Isaiah spent ages three and four living in a Batman costume, answering the phone, “This is Batman…” and to tell you the truth, I think that one reason I connected with your story so completely was that you captured and recorded a very tender piece of my own family’s history. I look forward to reading your other novels, so please keep writing!

    Sincerely,
    Jennifer Kuser
    Georgia, United States

    1. Hi Jennifer, what a kind message – thank you. Your son sounds very like mine when he was in his Batman phase! All good wishes to him & to you – Chris

  75. Dear Mr. Cleave,

    I was really touched by your story, and I appreciate the creation of Little Bee. I truly admire your ability to unfold such a complex, universal story. Little Bee most definitely enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the simultaneous beauty and tragedy of being human. Thank you for writing it.

    – a Wisconsinite from the states.

  76. I’m writing a paper on your book Little Bee and I was wondering, did the husband deal with manic depression?

  77. I can’t remember specifically when I read this heart breaking book but I do know it was on the new release shelf and have passed it on to friends. This morning when I awoke to my cell buzzing about Joseph Kony and read the controversial messages back and forth about this issue, I again thought of your book. It’s hard to live in the Land of the Free and the Brave and understand how another country can be so horrific. I can’t help but compare Little Bee to what the documentary of Kony 2012 has to show and not be over-whelmed with compassion.

  78. Dear Chris,
    I just finished reading “Little Bee”, and am trying to think how I can express in words how much I think of it, and thank you. As a artist, I realized that you have done what I hope to do in art: establish a dialogue with the viewer, so that a rhythm is set up between him/her and the content and feelings I expose…that what can be gained is what is really between the lines to be discovered. The structure, the wording, the relationship of a novel to “real” life all work towards that goal. (I hope this is understandable!)–
    I am left feeling both sad (even horrified) but also uplifted. I thought of my grandparents whom I did not know: refugees from pogroms of Russia, the hard times they had in American, of the many refugees (a few of whom I know) flowing into Israel (where I now live) every day–of those we almost don’t see in the back of restaurants, cleaning hotel rooms…and those dying on the way, trying to leave the unlivable.
    A question: I wrote about the book to a Nigerian e-friend. She teaches at a university, is very fluent in English, but had never heard of it. (I’m sending her my book.)–What is the situation there with your book? Do you know of any impact it has made there?
    Thank you. Elinore

  79. Dear Chris,

    I just finished reading ‘the other hand’ and am still standing beside the Little Bee… and I absolutely refuse to let go of her hand and won’t let the soldiers take her… I know this is unreal, but I am disappointed that you let them take her after what happened to her sister…

    You tell a good story, you just make it too real to be taken as just a good story. I don’t know whether to thank you for enlightening me about things that can happen in certain parts of our world or to regret reading this book… coz Nkiruka and Little Bee will never go out of my head now.

    Keep hope alive in the other books, will you?

    Loved the Little Bee and her lovely way of expressing herself, not the end though.

    Regards,

  80. Hi Chris

    What really got to me in your book are the examples of things that we in the “so called superior Western world” have accepted as normal but through Little Bee’s fresh view are rather twisted really. When Little Bee is talking to the girls back home of what she experiences in our world – mostly very funny examples, but when you think it through, pretty sad at the same time. (sad as in how did we get here)

    “Then it is not shameful in Great Britain, to show your bobbis in the newspaper”.

    Well done, very captivating from start to finish. I can’t help hoping all ended well for Little Bee, such a strong character. As well as Sarah, I like to believe she and Charlie made it back to the UK, she put up a fight over getting Little Bee back to the UK, her book got published and she won and got Little Bee to join them as Charlie’s caretaker/babysit whilst studying to become a someone in the UK who can make a difference for refugees….
    I am looking forward to getting hold of Gold in July and any other books by you in the future.

    Best wishes from Holland – Rina

    (I recommended reading your book in our bookclub, and will prepare and present The Other Hand (little bee for the Dutch) this coming Tuesday, I hope your book went under their skin too).

  81. Dear Chris,

    I read your novel “Little Bee” and completely fell in love with it. I was actually traveling, and while walking in the duty free (in Lebanon), I met a salesman in Virgin megastore that recommended it to me.
    You have no idea how many of my friends want to borrow the book, from how much I’ve been talking about it!
    I’m also extremely glad it’s being turned into a movie! Because, I’m actually a communication arts student and as I read, I imagined how it would look like on screen 😀
    Congratulations on a fantastic work of art, I can’t wait to buy your other books!
    Loved it, loved it, loved it!

  82. Thanks Chris, I don’t know what my wife missed because she couldn’t get through the first chapter ? I am halfway through Little Bee and am totally into it. Good Stuff !

  83. Dear Chris Cleave
    just finished Little Bee and liked it a lot – especially its humor and tenderness in the face of tragedy.It was never moralistic but showed how the characters felt and what motivated them instead. I wish I could tell a story the way you do.

  84. Just finished reading Little Bee!!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!! Chris, the novel was wonderful, couldnt put it down. Recommending to all my friends and colleagues!

    1. Hi Ahlishia – thank you for your kind words, and for recommending the novel to your friends! If you liked ‘Little Bee’ I hope you might like my new novel, ‘Gold’, which is out in July. All good wishes – Chris

  85. – in a poetic language you find your path in the crooked landscape of the mind and strike the very heart.
    Thank you for the touching story of Little Bee,
    a danish reader made wondering

  86. Hi Mr Cleave,

    I had submitted a short but sincere comment about your novel before, but I see it does not take place in the website.
    Is there a specific reason for choosing the comments to be posted, if not Have I posted stg. wrong?
    I would be happy to see my comment as well as the others’.

    I finished your book by the way.

    Regards

    1. Hi Umit, I’m sorry your comment didn’t get published. I publish all comments that are in English and not too crazy, so I expect it was just a technical error that meant I didn’t see yours. Please can you resend the comment? Thanks & sorry about that.

  87. I will never be able to fill my car tank with gasoline without being reminded of “Little Bee.” The horrific deeds and heroic actions of the books’ many characters have made real, for me, the hurdles, perils, fears, and even tortures that refugees and prisoners have endured. Greed (corporate and individual) is the often the root of evil. We consumers have a role in this.

  88. I just finished reading Little Bee, and I loved the book. I now have my daughter reading it for a book report for school. I am getting ready to go and buy Incendiary. I can’t wait to read it.

  89. I heard there was a movie or was going to be one based on Little Bee, is this true? I just finished the book, great book! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Amber – thanks for reading the book – glad you liked it! Yes there is a movie being made for Little Bee, although it isn’t happening very fast. I’ll post an update on this website and on Twitter @chriscleave, as soon as I know more about the film.

  90. sorry for my unclear question.
    in this novel public identity was a major theme, atleast to my understanding.
    and what I was wondering was how did the internal problems Little Bee, Sarah, and Charlie have reflect their public identity, if it did at all?
    and how did you show this theme through your novel?
    I’m writting a paper on your novel about public identity that the characters have so I just wanted to get your perspective on public identity used in your novel
    thank you for your time, I really appreciate it

    1. Hi Tony, that’s a good question. In a way the novel is all about identity: that which we are born with and that which we choose to assume.

      For example, when Little Bee comes to the UK she adopts a completely new persona, changing everything from her name to her clothes to her way of speaking the “Queen’s English”. She realises that the choice she makes when she assumes a “public identity”, as you put it, will determine her degree of safety. As she changes her public identity, there are also changes in her private image of herself. For example, she is aware of an increasing gulf between her experience of the world, and the experience of those she might have grown up with. (This is evidenced by the way in which she uses the device of explaining her new life to “the girls back home”).

      Sarah is also a character who is obsessed by her public image and her public identity, and is very aware of the impression she makes on others. For example, she talks about how she would dress for a publication day versus an ordinary work day, or she thinks about the exact message she sends with the clothes she wears to her husband’s funeral. Beneath this superficial layer of self-presentation, however, there is a deep conflict going on between her original self-image as a campaigning journalist and her professional identity as a successful editor of trivium. It is the (re)emergence of Little Bee in her life that forces her to address this conflict in her identity.

      If you’re writing a paper on this, then a nice way to start or end it might be to look at the character of Charlie. He is overtly and self-consciously manipulating his identity when he adopts the persona of Batman (who is himself a study in dual identity). Children play with identities very naturally, and I would argue that we never grow out of it – it’s just that the identity games we play are less overt than actually putting on a cape and mask.

      I hope this answer helps, and that your paper goes well! Thank you for your interest in my novel.

  91. Hi Chris – I just now finished Little Bee. It was my Thanksgiving read and I finished in a few days which is unusual for me! Wonderful book although I laid awake a bit with some of the horrible images…. What I want to know is what happens to Little Bee??

    1. Hi Marty – thanks for reading Little Bee & for your kind words. I like to think that Little Bee would have been okay in the end – that she would have talked herself into being released after a period of imprisonment. But I wanted to leave the other possibility open too. Unfortunately a lot of refugee stories end sadly, and I didn’t want to wave a literary magic wand and make everything okay at the end: I felt that to do that in fiction would be to disrespect the plight of refugees in the real world.

  92. I just finished reading your novel and it was amazing.
    would you explain to me how public identy was a factor for Little Bee and Charlie?
    thank you

    1. Hi Tony – thanks for reading the book & for your kind comment. I’m happy to answer your question but I don’t completely understand it. Please could you expand?

  93. A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

    Thank you Mister Cleave, you’re book might have changed the way i go about my life.
    I’ve laughed, cried, felt really sick and at the same time moved in a way I never experienced by a book. Most of all, I can tell you that I’ve never encountered such strong characters like Sarah and Little Bee, so convincing and real that it’s hard to believe they don’t exist in that very same way.
    I can’t wait to read your other books and wish you all the best for future novels, keep up the amazing work!
    Giulia

  94. Hi Chris. I just finished reading Little Bee which was our book club’s December selection. Your craft in telling the story was very well done. I am always amazed when a male writing captures a female voice so well. Yet your story is with 2 independent females of diverse backgrounds, lives and experiences. The people in our book-club are elementary school teachers, who enjoy learning the writing process of the author to share with our students. How did you come upon the idea of two female narrators? How did they lead you to tell their story? Was the ending planned as you began or did it unfold as the character’s lives intertwined? Maureen

    1. Hello Maureen – many thanks to you & your book club for reading Little Bee. In answer to your question: I’ve written about the choice of narrators and the challenges in writing them, and also about planning the book’s ending – in a Q&A here. I now see that the drop-down menu to the Q&A on this website is not working, so I’m not surprised you didn’t find it! Sorry about that – I will fix it ASAP.

  95. Dear Chris,

    On the last night of our honeymoon, my new husband and I found oursleves reading in bed together; I was reading Little Bee, and my husband, the new Steve Jobs biography…I can not stop thinking about the novel, about Little Bee and Sarah, Andrew and Charlie. Some parts of the book were extremely difficult to get through (my family has been affected by suicide), but I still could not put it down. I am going to recommend the book to family, even with it’s difficult parts, because it is so powerful. I have never read a piece so moving, so emotionally raw. Never has a book taken me through so many human emotions from start to finish. I look forward to reading future works.

  96. Chris, Little Bee has changed my life. I will be recommending this for our next book in my club. I have seen the movie Incendiary and MUST read the book now. You have broadened my horizons immensely. You did an amazing job of speaking for these characters and making us a part of their stories. Thank you. Tricia

  97. I have just re-read Little Bee for the third time, as I am moderator for my book club this Wednesday. I still got something more out of it the third time partially reading it my husband’s hospital room. I love the majesty of the writing, the expressions, the characters of Little Bee, Sarah and Lawrence. I love your reason for writing on this subject, and I think you would be a person I would very much like to meet and talk to.

  98. I returned from three weeks of work in Abuja, exhausted, discouraged and happy to be home. I had never felt that way before about leaving an African country and it scared me. Several people told me I had to read Little Bee and I have finally done so. What a magnificent book! I was impressed that you were so able to write in the voices of women — no easy feat. And I was just captivated by the story. A wonderfully moving and engrossing tale that compelled me to read the whole book in one day. There are so many examples of injustice and apathy in our increasingly global society, but also stores of incredible compassion. You raised all of these issues so beautifully. I am glad I read the book after I returned from Abuja, but agree with your book that there are empty spaces ready to be filled with hope not only in that city but everywhere. Thank you so much for a great read and so much to think about…

  99. Thank you so much for this book. I really enjoyed the eye-opening story, even more as I myself leave in London and could see some of the places the characters go to. Your writing is very enjoyable too, not being English-speaker I had to look up some of the words, but learned from it and that’s great!

  100. I was required to read Little Bee for an English class. I am a mother of three children under the age of six, I work 2 jobs, and I am a full time college student.
    If this was not a required read I honestly would have never read this book. I came to this site to share my love for this book. I plan on reading more books by Mr. Cleave. It is amazing that someone could write a book that literally comes to life. It must sound very cliche but never have I read a book that made me laugh out loud, cry, become so angry, made me gasp, and excited. I could feel the branches brushing my face as they ran through the jungle, I cried when Batman realized his father was dead, I felt fear when Little Bee had to phone the police….. simply every emotion known to mankind came to life in this book. I want to thank Mr. Cleave one Zillion times for writing Little Bee. I can not wait to read more work!!!

  101. Hi Chris, I started reading your book this morning and by p.20 I just knew it was going to be one of those ‘read-it-in-one-go’ books. I was in love with Little Bee, the main character right from the start. (At midday my husband came home and although I hadn’t seen him for a week, I begged him to let me read the final four pages before we talked!) Little Bee was the best book I’ve read in a long long time and I’m still mulling over it as we speak…

    I only have one doubt: it didn’t seem very logical to me what happened on the beach all those years ago… surely the men would have attacked Little Bee’s sister, with or without Sarah’s intervention?? and wouldn’t the guys have raped the sister right there on the beach, instead of taking her away? If they had let Little Bee go, why would she still be with her sister later? Unfortunately, I slightly lost my ‘suspense of disbelief’ at that point, so I’d be really grateful if you could explain it. Many thanks and keep writing wonderful books that not only entertain, but also have a powerful underlying message.

  102. I took the book in my hand on Saturday morning at 9 am … and I put it down 3 pm. I read the hole book just like that. I laughed and I cried. Thank you. the book really touched. wordless *sigh*

  103. I read Little Bee a year or so ago, and loved it, so then I read Incendiary and loved that even more. And then I saw another title was available, The Other Hand, so I ordered a copy through an inter-library loan, and was surprised to find that it’s Little Bee under a different title! Oh well…. never mind, I loved Little Bee the first time, and I know I’ll enjoy reading it even more the second time, never mind what the title is!
    Thank you for your writing, you have given me many hours of reading pleasure. Fenella in Canada.

  104. I am a member of Lake Naomi Pa. book club. The book was so thought provoking and will soon lead us in a lively discussion. The ambiguity of the ending is a soul searching experience in this time of global concern and world citizenship. How far did your hopes and concerns play out in the final scene? Was this originally planned or did it evolve as you experienced the writing process? I would really appreciate a response?
    Thank you . Pat Mosunic

  105. Hey Chris,
    I had the pleasure of reading Little Bee, which i loved, over the summer. I also had the chance to listen to your amazing speech at the convocation at Pace University on September 6th and i wanted to thank you again for meeting with me afterwords, signing my book and giving me the chance to chat with you a little after. I am currently starting your other book, Incendiary, and loving it. Your one of my new found favorite authors, keep up the amazing work and i hope ill be able to see you speak again in the future.

    -Greg

  106. My name is Shaunise. I havent read a book for my own personal reading in about 6 years. I recently started a job that does not allow you to use cell phones while on the clock. I saw other co-workers reading books and magazines. I went to my school bookstore and saw the book Little Bee. Honestly I picked the book because of the cover and my 2 yr old son, we call him Lil B. I must say to get back into reading books, I couldnt have asked for a better choice. This book had me on the edge of my seat. I laughed, I was sad, I cried (When they took Little Bee away). Ive never felt those emotions from reading a book. I fell inlove with little bee and I felt like I knew her just as Sarah and Charlie. I absolutley love this story and I await the feature film. Mr. Chris Cleave, you are amazingly talented and awesome. I will be purchasing Incendiary tomorrow. I can go on and on but I would rather spread the word to all my reader friends to read this book. You have open my mind to read read and just read and I thank you for that. YOU ROCK!

  107. Hello Chris,

    “Little Bee” had been recommended to me by 3 different people on many separate occasions and a few months ago I finally bought it. At the time, however, I was in the midst of reading the Letters of Virginia Woolf (only got through Vol. II–yikes!), and I kept “Bee” on my shelf for much longer than I should have. I opened your shining novel about a week ago and finished it 3 days later while riding the train to work. I was sitting in the middle of a bunch of foul-mouthed, boisterous teenagers–who, in any other situation would have been horribly distracting–but I was so engulfed in your gorgeous story-telling that I just sat there, weeping (with joy and with sadness). And everything was silent. Everything was wonderful. I didn’t hear or see anything but Little Bee and Charlie on the beach together, laughing.

    “Little Bee” is the one of the most staggeringly beautiful books I have ever read; the voices, thoughts, and hearts of your characters are so incredibly moving. “Bee” is refreshingly well-written and the characters are so fully realized that I felt like I was walking down the beach or through the London streets with Bee. I could see myself under the boat with her. I could feel Batman’s little hand in my hand.

    THANK YOU for writing this book. Please keep writing, and I will definitely keep reading.

    Fondly,
    Julie-Anne Whitney
    Boston, MA (USA)

  108. Hello Mr. Cleave, i hope you are well. I am a college student and as part of an assignment i’m to view a video clip of you from you tube and read the first chaoter of you book. I thought i might first read some the comments. I did just that and then i read the first line of the frist chapter and stopped. As a man with some life experience ( i’m 56) i’ve come to have what i think is a health skepticism when reading material that has a specific gender outlook or voice rather than an inclusive human voice. The understanding of the nuances of this particuar voice is further complicated still by the racial dynamic. One can see how this plays in how the violence is percieved by your audience in the response by Toni Collins who describes the violence as, ” the rawness of African violence”)

  109. I have been given this book but traslated it into german. I have no so much patiente to read books , but the story looked interesting. What a pity .I do not know
    if there is a traslation into spanish. My mum likes so much reading books and she’d be interesting in this story.

    1. Hi Joana, thanks for your message and for wanting to read the novel – yes, it is available in Spanish. It is published in Spain by Maeva and you should hopefully be able to find it online or have your local bookstore order it for you. If you have trouble finding a copy, please let me know through this website. Best wishes, Chris.

  110. Little Bee has stolen my heart and I can’t stop thinking about her. Your book has re-ignited that part of me that so desperately wants to see evidence of a major shift in our ability to see ourselves in each other. You were able to present these women in ways that spoke to parts of me that haven’t been touched in a while…..maybe that is happening to other readers and one by one the shift is influenced. I don’t usually write, so am finding it difficult to put my feelings into words, but so wanted you to know how much this book moved me and that I see it as a very special piece of the web we are all weaving to create a more peaceful world.

  111. Mr. Cleave: I just finished reading Little Bee and have been thinking quite a bit about the story. In the real world of the UK and the US, would Little Bee actually have been deported? Seems like her story is our rationale for asylum. Could the book have left Little Bee in the UK and ended with the same scene on the beach? I have visions of ICE and Homeland Security in the US operating much as the soldiers in your book. I agree that taking Charlie to Africa was reckless. Thank you for this absorbing read and for reminding me of the power of stories.

  112. Hi, Mr. Cleave,

    My name is Andrew Miller, and I attend The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). I started a book club there, and our first book is Little Bee. We would be honored if you could come to the campus to discuss the novel with us. I have never had the chance to meet an author, and discuss his intentions, and I think that your coming would really benefit the members of the book club. Little Bee is my favorite novel. We would love to have the opportunity to talk to you about it.

    Let me know if you’re interested by contacting millea12@tcnj.edu

    Thank you in advance! I appreciate it!

    Andrew

  113. I just finished the Little Bee it was one of the most emotionally moving books i have ever read, this is something im going to recommend to everyone, but I did have some questions
    1. What was your inspiration for the cover art, I know this shares a common theme with one of youre other books and i thought it was interesting, it really grabs the eye, I saw that it shared a common theme with Incendiary and wanted to know if there was a reason for that.
    2. When Sarah and Little Bee were collecting stories why didnt you put in some of the stories?
    3. Regarding Lawrence how come you didnt put in his feelings about Sarah going to africa?
    Thankyou
    P.S
    Keep writing, I cant wait to read Incendiary

  114. Little Bee is my book club’s selection for this month. One of our members convinced us that it was an excellent read and she was so right! The characters were amazingly depicted. The two women were so complex – vulnerable yet strong, passionate yet conflicted. The book club wanted to ask a few questions prior to our meeting next Tuesday:

    1. During your writing process, did you always plan to leave the ending open? If so, why? Americans may prefer a happy ending, but I personally like to think of the story continuing into the future in an undetermined direction.

    2. Most of our club members are moms, so we struggled with Sarah’s decision to bring her son along to Nigeria. What was her motivation to do this? Did she not want to desert him? Was she blinded by her desire to help Little Bee at whatever cost to her family?

    3. How was Sarah able to reconcile her feelings so quickly about Little Bee’s presence during her husband’s suicide? Even if she didn’t blame Little Bee for the suicide, there would still be intense emotions surrounding it.

    Little Bee is thought-provoking and completely engrossing. The characters seemed so real, so human – full of faults and experiencing dilemmas as they stumble through life. I look forward to reading your other novels.

    1. Dear Cathy, many thanks to you and your book club for reading Little Bee. I hope your discussion will be fun! In answer to your questions:

      (1) I didn’t know how I would end it until I started writing the final section. I decided finally to give it an ambiguous ending because I realised that the book was asking a question (Did Sarah do enough for Little Bee?) and by extension asking a question of us all (Do we do enough for those less fortunate than ourselves?) rather than answering that question.

      (2) I tend to agree with you regarding Sarah’s decision to return to Nigeria with Charlie. If I had a chance to revise the book, that’s the part I would work on. I think it’s important for the story to end where it began, in Africa, and I don’t think that Sarah could realistically leave Charlie behind, but I would like to see Sarah provide an additional level of security for him on their trip. I think she should acknowledge to herself that the situation is potentially dangerous, and perhaps hire a guard to go around with them – or some similar security arrangement. That arrangement could still go awry, of course, and allow the identical final scene on the beach, but the set-up would be more realistic in terms of Sarah’s responsibilities and concerns as a mother. I’m pretty furious at myself for not getting that bit right, actually – it would only be the work of a paragraph, and it would remedy what I think is the book’s one serious divergence from realism.

      (3) I’m less worried about the book’s portrayal of Sarah’s feelings after Andrew’s suicide – I still think her mental process is quite realistic. I have done a lot of research on post-traumatic states, and I think Sarah exemplifies that strange hinterland which is completely “with it” and pragmatic one moment, and utterly deluded the next. I think it will take her a long time to come to terms with what’s happened to Andrew – at first she feels nothing at all, and then she goes into a kind of denial, and then she forces herself to go back into her memory and remind herself where it all went wrong. I think her attachment to Little Bee is actually the beginning of a grieving process for Andrew – a process which is still far form complete at the close of the novel.

      I hope those responses will be useful during your club’s discussions. Thank you for thinking so carefully about the novel. As a writer, that means a great deal to me.

  115. I am reading your book for a second time. As a Brit living in the USA, I can honestly say I am reading this book through a British person’s eyes as well as American.Would you explain to me why some words that Bee uses are are in italics.

    1. Hello Ann – re your question about italics: I use them for a variety of effects, and often to indicate a shift in register rather than to imply emphasis. For example I might have one of my characters think to themselves: “My husband was the kind of guy people called a quiet hero” – with the italics signifying that the character recognises the phrase as a journalistic shorthand, rather than a description she might have used herself. In this case I would be using italics to denote a register somewhere between first person monologue and reported speech. In other cases I use italics to delineate reported speech within dialogue, when it would get messy to use nested quotation marks. And in other cases still, I use them simply to indicate the intent of a line in dialogue. For example, “That’s my baby, Angela!” means something rather different from “That’s my baby, Angela!”
      I suppose what I’m saying is that italics are a multipurpose vehicle for me, and I’m quite carefree and inconsistent in the ways I deploy them. There aren’t many typographical effects at our disposal as writers – the only others are caps and bold face, I think – so inevitably we abuse their forgiving nature.

  116. Hi Toni – your comments have just absolutely made my morning. Thank you! I’m delighted one of my books was character-building for your offspring. I promise I will write the fill-on humour book one of these days soon. I have another serious novel that I desperately want to write first, and then maybe the funny book will be book #5…

  117. p.s. although I laughed less in the second two thirds of the book, I remained gripped by the drama and characters all the way through. I grew up in South Africa and this is the first book I’ve read that depicts the rawness of African violence, yet didn’t completely strip me apart. A Long Way Gone by Ishmeal Beah reduced me to a puddle of quivering despair for days. Perhaps the knowledge that your story is fiction has cushioned the blow for me, but I suspect the balance provided by the humour and the adorable Batman will allow Little Bee’s story to spread to more of the world than if you had chosen a more brutal way of telling it. May it play a part in alleviating the suffering that goes on there.

    I’m a huge fan! Once I finished the book I amused myself by reading your Guardian columns online 🙂 I look forward to following your work and, shallowly, am holding my breath for the full-on-humour book.

  118. I stayed up most of last night reading Little Bee, quite unable to put it down despite knowing I’d be useless in the morning. It was worth it! Besides, I’m sure it was character-building for my kids to make their own school luches while I mumbled incoherently from the couch, then drove them to school in my PJs.

    The humour in the book is delicious, I adore your writing style and find myself going back through and chuckling at my favourite bits again this morning. I’m almost sorry that I devoured the book so fast, rather than savouring it. I can’t wait to read Incendiary – maybe I’ll catch a good night’s sleep first.

    Thanks, and all the best to you!

  119. I finished the book a couple of weeks ago for my book group. Perhaps I had a different experience of it because I listened to it as an audio book and was not really able to read around the worst parts – the beach scene – as others in my group did. I’m absolutely haunted by it, and not a good way. I found it sort of horrifying. I know it was fiction but it’s not that there aren’t thousands of Little Bees worldwide. I guess I appreciated the unflinching ending but, perhaps it’s because I’m American, I kept hoping that Little Bee wouldn’t be killed violently after a mostly miserable, traumatic life. I’m left feeling rather traumatized actually. I can’t help but wonder what the motivation was for writing it. Was it to give voice to the misery of refugees and the plight of women and children in war-torn countries? Please tell me you had a purpose for writing it.

    1. Lauri – Thank you for your message. I’m very sorry you were upset by the book. It’s certainly not my intention to make anyone feel down, and it does credit to your sensitivity as a person and as a reader that some of the scenes troubled you.

      I did have a purpose in writing the book, which was to tell a realistic story about what it’s like at certain times in certain parts of the world. My belief is that literature can help people to focus on some things about the world that need changing.

      Having said that, I can see why some people find the novel traumatizing, and it’s a feeling I’ve had too with certain books. After reading Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, for example, I felt very depressed and disheartened for a couple of weeks. (Nevertheless, I thought ‘The Road’ was one of the all-time great novels). At least in McCarthy’s books, though, you know that the situation starts bad and is only going to get worse. With Little Bee I think part of the problem is that the book switches between comic and tragic registers, so that it is a bit of a shock when the beach scene arrives. Maybe there should be some kind of warning on the cover. In any case, I’m sincerely sorry that the book disturbed you, and I hope that the feeling will soon fade.

      Best wishes,
      Chris

    1. Miriam – thanks so much for your message & your terrific review. I hope your book club will have a great discussion!

  120. Hi Chris,
    I finished reading Little Bee this morning and wanted to tell you what a wonderful book this is. The women characters in this book are so strong and true. I never found myself saying, “A woman wouldn’t say that!” You did a great job of talking for these women. I was only in the beginning of the book when I told my daughter about it and told her she must read it. I will now go out and buy Incendiary and also your new book when it comes out. Thank you for your work.
    A fan for life,
    Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy – thank you for your very kind message – that has made my day. I’m so glad you liked the book & I hope you’ll enjoy the new one when it comes out!

  121. Hi Chris,
    I finished reading Little Bee a couple of weeks ago and I have to say it was one of the most difficult books to read that I’ve come across. It was impossible not to cry.
    I got this book at a bookcrossing meeting in Bangkok – I think it was meant to find me.
    Thank you for writing such a beautiful, emotional and powerful story. It will stay with me for a long, long time.

    1. Hi Delia – thank you. I just looked at your blog, which is great. I see you have a book by Joanna Kavenna on your to-read pile. She is a friend and a brilliant writer – I recommend moving it to the top of the pile 🙂

  122. Thank you Chris Cleave for Little Bee. This book was passed along to me at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while my baby was having his second heart surgery. During the nights my son slept your book took my mind off all the stress i was under… I have always been a positive person so i knew that all would be ok…with Little Bee and with my son. Her character seemed at peace at the end of the story giving up her name to Charlie and laughing. Although i did not want to see her caught i saw her amazing strength come full circle. Moving story makes you realize how insignificant some of our problems are in comparason to these real life issues.

    1. Thank you, Sue. I’m so glad the book helped. Hope your son’s surgery went very well – all good wishes for health and happiness to him, and to you.

  123. Beautifully written work of art. I didn’t want to put it down, bought my copy at Midway Airport and finished just in time to pass my copy on to the woman I bought it from (working the register) back at Midway Airport in Chicago after a weekend away. Books this amazing need to be shared, please pass this on…read, turn pages, share, talk, connect. Thank you for writing this.

  124. It was like the book was just following me from the shelves of bookshops…I decided to buy and read it since the very first sentences made me curious being so full of meaning. It’s deeply moving and once I finished it I went back to read some parts I had underlined just to make the story never end.

  125. I am reading “Little Bee” rather than my Book Club’s monthly suggestion. I am enthralled by the writing style. It is descriptive without overdoing. The character’s are as clear as if being painted by an artist. The story unfolds at a very natural pace. The book is intelligent but not to the point of high mindedness. I am half way into the book and feel compelled to comment. I appreciate the works of an outstanding writer! I am an American with compassion, so the subject matter tugs at my heart strings. I am also thankful for the use of the character’s accents without making it tedious to read. Thankful for a Great-Great Book!!!

  126. We reviewd Little Bee at our book club today. We unanamously agreed that the ending was very disappointing, all hoping that Little Bee would be safe in the end. We agreed it was a poignant, beautifully written book with a real story to tell. Personally I loved the narration by Little Bee, the innocence, the bravery, the simple but complex outlook on life. It is a mind boggling story that everyone should read! Well done!!

  127. We chose this book for our church book club and will be discussing tomorrow at our monthly book review. Thank you for such a compelling and well written novel. We are all certain to want to know what happened to Little Bee and Sarah & Charlie?? Is there a sequel in the wind? The book has left my wife and I in a quandary, scratching our heads. We can’t wait for tomorrow’s discussion.

  128. I see a life within the ‘Little Bee’. Each and every words I read (gaps were more compelling though) turned into a picture and stuck in my mind. And I want to know what happened to Sarah, Charlie and Little Bee after that.

  129. What a truly amazing book Little Bee is. All too often we become so complacent in our lives we do not realize the true struggles of other people and cultures in the world. Definitely an eye opener. May all who read it find a little more compassion and understanding in their hearts.

  130. I started reading The Other Hand last night and couldn’t put it down. I’ve just finished and felt compelled to say what a completely beautiful book it is. I cried buckets, but laughed out loud, too. It’s the best book I’ve read in such a long time. Thank you.

  131. I love this story. It’s beautiful. However, I was so disappointed by the ending. It was as if you’d gone on vacation and you came to my house, told me all about your vacation then you say, ‘you’ll never believe how I got home. But instead of telling you, I want you to decide how I got home.’ You wrote a whole story. So end it! But otherwise, I loved it enough to continually pass it on to others!

  132. I just finished ” Little Bee” for a monthly book club. I really enjoyed the book, but came out of it with so many questions. I had questions about Nigeria, and the soldiers that walk the beach and destroyed Little Bee’s home, wishing I could do more for the people in Nigeria, that they wouldn’t have to leave. Most touching, when Little Bee started to walk away, and talked to this other man, then looked over, and walked back. And when the little boy was missing. Biggest surprise, when the family showed up on the plane to take Little Bee home. Also when she gave the boy her real name. Hardest to understand, why Sarah took up with a married man, and was the angst from not standing up, being a man, and cutting off his finger, enough for Andrew to hang himself?So much to discuss in the book club. Also, the ending, I didn’t want her to be captured again, that was so sad, and a bit of a full circle. All and all, really great book, and I want to read his other books now.

  133. I read The Other Hand in 2 days, one of my favourite books this year! I enjoyed Little Bee’s character immensely, how the English language was given a whole new appreciation and perspective through Little Bee was an unexpected surprise, her insight, innocence, courage and determination appealed to me on so many levels. A thought provoking read, touching on so many important issues that are real/current, globalisation, development, democracy, freedom, poverty, etc, I could relate to easily. Even the real life dramas of married life and family life made this tale a reassuring read. Thank you for a wonderfully written book, I can’t wait to pass it on.

  134. Wow. I finished this book today. The voices you gave your characters were so real I could hear them speak. Particularly the immigrants. I’m American, and I could still ‘hear’ them all.

    I thought this was an Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Grapes of Wrath in its impact. It broke my heart. I hope it effects real change.

    You made so much sorrow plain, but it didn’t feel hopeless. It told a story I did not want to hear, and still made me laugh.

    I have been troubled by denied asylum to refugees since I was a teenager — nearly twenty years now. It grieves me. I can see both sides of the issue, but being a Christian impresses me with the culpability of giving the alien, the fatherless and the widow more cause for sorrow. We who are able ought to be a refuge and not a wall.

    You kept having the characters make a choice to help or do nothing because of the cost, and it strikes me how many of our policies in this area are that choice over and over again.

    I’m afraid to read any more of your books.

  135. It is a captivating and moving story, beautifully written. I couldn´t stop reading it until I finished it. Highly recommended

  136. Thank you so much! This piece was absolutely the most beautiful thing I have read in a long time. The scene where Batman falls into Andrew’s grave sent chills into my soul, whereas his running amongst the Nigerian children made tears come to my eyes. It is not often that a book can so quickly grasp my heart, but this book managed to do so in the opening page. This is a novel I will be talking about for decades, and possibly teaching in my literature classes. Bravo! Keep the novels coming!

  137. hallo, i am finished with reading LITTEL BEE since one week and i am still in littel bee fever. Fantacstic. Thank you 🙂
    But really nothing agains Nicole Kidman but please she cannot be aprt of such a brillant book. It have to be a more suitabe person. No hollywood glamout, it have to be a good film ! 🙂

  138. Gostaria de dizer apenas que chorei com seu o Pequena Abelha. Achei emocionante, muito bem escrito e que trata de um tema importante mas, acima de tudo, da complexidade das relações humanas. Quero ler mais coisas suas. Obrigada.

  139. The best book I have ever read. I laughed and cried- and truly loved every moment. Going to buy Incendiary first thing tomorrow!

  140. Dear Mr. Cleave, Thank you for the courage and sincerity. While reading your book I found in myself. I think this book is a symbol of loyalty and sacrifice. I felt the book so that the heat of the beach and waves and I cried , I cried.
    My English is not very good but our emotions are the same so I think you understand me because I understand you.
    I hope that this work brings to write an exaple to the whole world. Of all the thieves and war and massacres in the world for more than just people.
    I’ M PRAYING ALL THE LITTLE BEES.

  141. Thanks for sharing this great book from the New York times bes seller list.. I´ve personally purchased this book around 10 minutes back and look forward reading it.

    Thanks a lot,

    Kristin

  142. I know what Little Bee felt, when I got asylum in the United States from my Birth Place Cuba, also the wonderful people that gave us refuge, a hand and a place to live, and food for my family,they were Angels that came to guide us and give us hope for a new home in the United State of America.
    Reading your book was like living those unforgetable memories.

  143. Just finished this remarkable book which is extremely thought provoking. How does a person survive death…of family, of a tribe, of self? This story shows how uniquely lives can become intertwined and spark the growth of each other even during difficult times. Great selection for this month’s book club!

  144. Thanks Chris for writing Little Bee/The Other Hand. The world needs wake up calls like this. You wrote both women extremely well and the combined narratives really challenged cultural perspectives. Was hooked from the opening paragraph. Look forward to reading more of your work.

  145. Chris,
    Re: Little Bee

    Why are there two different titles for this book? Which do you prefer??

    We will discuss Little Bee tomorrow at our Book Club. You have give us a treasure for sure.

    MJ