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!

  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,

  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?

  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.


  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).


  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).

    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!


  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.

    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!


    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


  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,

  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!

    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.


  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.


    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