Reviews of LITTLE BEE

  • New York Times #1 bestseller
  • Shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Novel Award
  • Nominated for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book
  • Longlisted for IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
  • An Indie Next pick
  • Santa Monica Citywide Reads selection 2010
  • NPR “On Point” – Best Books of the Year
  • O MAGAZINE “10 Terrific Reads of 2009”
  • Chicago Tribune – Favorite Novels of 2009
  • St. Louis Dispatch – Top 50 Books of the Year
  • Hudson Books – Top Ten Books of the Year

“Little Bee will blow you away…. In restrained, diamond-hard prose, Cleave alternates between these two characters’ points of view as he pulls the threads of their dark—but often funny—story tight. What unfolds between them… is both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heart-rending.”— The Washington Post

“…[an] immensely readable and moving second novel…. Cleave uses his emotionally charged narrative to challenge his readers’ conceptions of civility, of ethical choice…The character and voice of Little Bee reveal Cleave at his finest…. An affecting story of human triumph.”— The New York Times Book Review

“…One of the most vividly memorable and provocative characters in recent contemporary fiction. In Chris Cleave’s heartwarming and heartbreaking Little Bee… The tone veers quickly between humor and horror, a very dark, biting humor to be sure, but usually skating along a thin blade of irony, the kind to make you laugh with a little grimace…The shift in perspective when we finally learn of Little Bee’s experience that fateful day on the beach is viscerally stunning and would be nearly impossible to bear had we not known of Little Bee’s strength and resilience. Cleave paces the story beautifully, lacing it with wit, compassion, and, even at the darkest moments, a searing ray of hope.”—The Boston Globe

“Cleave has a Zola-esque ability to write big, and deeply . . . . Cleave makes the reader think about political issues and care about his characters.”—USA Today

“Every now and then, you come across a character in a book whose personality is so salient and whose story carries such devastating emotional force it’s as if she becomes a fixed part of your consciousness. So it is with the charmingly named title character in Chris Cleave’s brilliant and unforgettable Little Bee… sequined with lustrous turns of phrase, spanning two continents and driven by real-life global concerns… What elevates this novel even further is Cleave’s forceful call for all of us, the floating masses of a globalized, socially isolating modern world, to look after one other.”—The Seattle Times

“Utterly enthralling page-turner… Novelist Cleave does a brilliant job of making both characters not only believable but memorable…. These compelling voices grip the reader’s heart and do not let go even after the book’s hyper-tense final page. Little Bee is a harrowing and heartening marvel of a novel.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Cleave deftly moves the plot between a desolate stretch of Nigerian beach and the home in an upscale London suburb…[and he] invests poignancy and grace into the unspeakable atrocities that occur throughout the African continent in the name of oil exploration…Heartbreaking one moment, quirky and charming the next, Little Bee will draw you in on the first page and linger in the mind long after the last chapter is closed.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Electric…. Please don’t fear a dull, worthy novel with a message—this is a suspenseful tale of two women survivors.”—Chicago Tribune

“…Little Bee is a loud shout of talent.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Stunning.”—People (Four Stars and a People Pick)

“The voice that speaks from the first page of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee is one you might never have heard—the voice of a smart, wary, heartsick immigrant scarred by the terrors of her past…. Read this urgent and wryly funny novel for its insights into simple humanity, the force that can disarm fear.”—O Magazine

“Book clubs in search of the next Kite Runner need look no further than this astonishing, flawless novel… Cleave (Incendiary) effortlessly moves between alternating viewpoints with lucid, poignant prose and the occasional lighter note. A tension-filled dramatic ending and plenty of moral dilemmas add up to a satisfying, emotional read.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Cleave is a nerves-of-steel storyteller of stealthy power, and this is a novel as resplendent and menacing as life itself.”—Booklist (starred review)

“…a psychologically charged story of grief, globalization and an unlikely friendship … Cleave’s narrative pulses with portentous, nearly spectral energy.”—Kirkus

“Beautifully staged . . . Cleave has a sharp cinematic eye.”—Publishers Weekly

“Little Bee is a smart, topical novel about notions of community and family and about various kinds of violence, including the violence engendered by neglect. It’s also about the insular versus the global… Cleave’s book asks us to step outside our own tidy borders, let the world in and embrace our own and others’ humanity.”—The Kansas City Star

“This is an amazing book—beautifully written with a unique insight into the mind of a genocide victim… Deeply moving, sad, hopeful, painful and inspiring—this bittersweet book is worth your time.”—Boulder Daily Camera (Colorado)

“The charge, then: buy this book. Resist opening it until you are ready to start reading, for once you begin you’ll find yourself unable to stop. … Prepare yourself for Cleave’s poignancy, his control, and the pathos he so effortlessly evinces. Expect astonishment, for this is a work inspiring in depth and style; a work that alters perceptions.” —Bookslut

“Little Bee will amaze and delight you, and break your heart. It’s one of the finest books I’ve read in years, from its lyrical opening lines to its surprising end…. If I were still a bookseller, I’d sell Little Bee with a money-back guarantee.”—Shelf

“Cleave has created a true page-turner, one that leaves the reader asking for more even after the final pages have been read. This is a book not to be missed.”—Belleville Intelligencer (Ontario, Canada)

“Besides sharp, witty dialogue, an emotionally charged plot and the vivid characters’ ethical struggles, Little Bee delivers a timely challenge to reinvigorate our notions of civilised decency.”
The Independent (UK)

“An ambitious and fearless gallop from the jungles of Africa via a shocking encounter on a Nigerian beach to the media offices of London and domesticity in leafy suburbia…Cleave immerses the reader in the worlds of his characters with an unshakable confidence.” —The Guardian (UK)

“Searingly eloquent.” —Daily Mail (UK)

“It would be a disservice to give away the powerful conclusion of this absorbing and gutsy story, which deals convincingly with ethical and personal accountability.”—Oxford Times (UK)