The Other Hand

“A powerful piece of art… shocking, exciting and deeply affecting.” – Independent

“Searingly eloquent.” – Daily Mail

“Ambitious and fearless.” – Guardian

(THE OTHER HAND is published in the USA and Canada as LITTLE BEE).

other_hand_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

324 thoughts on “The Other Hand”

  1. I have just finished to read this book. The story is amazing. I read it all in a few days!
    I lived in Mozambique for over a year and saw with my own eyes and felt in my own heart how they struggle for life there and your book took me back there. I loved to live in Maputo, the capital of the country, but it was not easy to see all I had seen.
    I will look for another books of yours.
    Thanks for your writing. By the way: I am Brazilian

  2. Dear Chris,

    I would not have read your book had I known what it was about because I used to work with asylum seekers. And I feel helpless when I think of them. But my friend just put her copy in my bag as I was leaving her house and said “you should read this”. It took me by surprise. What a literary achievement to give people hope, whilst bringing the unspoken, harsh reality in their bubbles of safety.

    I have been studying how the colonialist past and the loss of empire was never dealt with in the UK. And how this manifests itself in everyday racism, and all this hostility and fear of migrants, and the “other”. It is really hard to find accessible (for everyone) art that represents this with honesty, without hiding from the truth and the past. So the past carries on, speaking for us, never being dealt with. Day in and day. And we carry on treating fellow human beings like subhuman. Your book does not shy away from this – and all along it tricks you into thinking you’re reading a best selling page turner. If we are ever to understand and overcome the past, we need more of this kind of art.

    I just wanted to say that I didn’t know anything about you until today, when I read all the reviews. As I put the book down, I thought “if this is the only thing he has ever written, he has done enough for the world. He has made a difference already!”. You and others like you, are the hope.

    Thank you for using your talent in this way. Thank you!

    1. Dear Chris

      I am currently writing my final year dissertation at Cambridge University on The Literary Portrayal of African Refugees- your novel is forming a large party of my examination of the linguistic alienation that I believe asylum seekers face on reaching their new country of residence. I was very interested in how you portrayed Little Bee’s reaction to learning ‘the Queen’s English’, and how much she as a character felt she had lost by abandoning ‘the best tricks of her mother tongue’. I know that you did a great deal of research before writing the book, and I was wondering how you gained such an insightful view of the linguistic problems that refugees face, and how you re-created the form of English that Little Bee spoke whilst in Nigeria?

      Thank you so much for the novel.


    2. Dear Chris,
      I have just reread ‘The Other Hand’ and am pleased that the book was marketed in Australia as that rather than ‘Little Bee’.
      By naming your offering as ‘Little Bee’ the publisher/marketer really denied the duality of the tale, and some how diminished the other protagonists roles, not only in the story but also in demonstrating the theme.
      Yours in hope, Anne

  3. Dear Chris Cleave,

    My name is Claudia and I am from Brazil.

    My name is Claudia and I am from Brazil.
    Firstly, I would like to give congratulations on your beautiful book. I started reading there 02 days and I’m already almost done.
    Incredible, immersed in history in an absurd way !!!! I do not want to work or to be able to finish reading ….
    I will never forget the definition of scar that I read in your book. Perfect!
    I’m doing research on the movie, but I did not find anything. He has not been released yet?

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

  4. What a sledgehammer of a book for my holiday read. Combines social justice, love, globalisation, family, terror, selfishness and selflessness. I read it with the constant expectation of the roof falling on my head. Unbelievable that the story is so believable in the early years of the 21st century, a truly sad reflection of parts of today’s world. One for realists, not one for those who want a nice escapist happy holiday read as they look up at the pool between chapters and the next cocktail. I loved it.

  5. Hi Chris — I have read Little Bee now three times… Once for myself when it first came out, and twice for different book clubs I’m in. My (newish) book club is meeting tonight to discuss Little Bee and I thought I’d just take a stab at contacting you to see if you could recommend any particular ways in which to discuss your marvelous book…. ways that will really encourage this group of psychologists, university professors and lawyers to engage in a meaningful conversation about the book and its issues. I read in your FAQ that you describe Little Bee as “a novel about where our individuality lies – which layers of identity are us, and which are merely camouflage.” I love that as a topic, but I wonder if there are others you could suggest based on what folks have wanted over and over to discuss with YOU about it. Also, any other thoughts you have about “where our individuality lies” and what that means to YOU would be so interesting to hear.

    Thank you so much for your books and your humanity.
    warmly –
    Anne in Lawrence, KS

    1. Hi Anne – as you have read the book three times, I send you triple thanks. I hope your book club will enjoy the meeting tonight. It sounds like an amazing group – with psychologists, lawyers and professors I expect you have no shortage of analytical firepower. I do think that the issue of identity is an interesting lens through which to view the book. The refugee experience – and more widely the immigrant experience – is transformative for the new arrival in terms of their identity. But it is also a challenge to the identity of the host country and of the persons within it who identify as pro- and anti- immigration. A second good angle on the book is to make it personal. I ask people to imagine that they become a refugee. It’s interesting to identify the specific threat – pandemic, terrorist act, natural disaster – which might cause one to have to flee one’s own country. Then it is interesting to ask ourselves where we would go, and whether they would – or morally should – grant us asylum. I find that this approach brings the debate from the abstract into the specific, and tends to divide the opinion in most rooms. After that it’s interesting to take it back up to the level of public policy. Finally, you asked me about where I think my identity lies. It isn’t an easy question, of course. I think I might be exactly the wrong kind of person to ask. As a novelist I’m always trying on other people’s lives for size. I’m like one of those actors who has done so many roles that they’ve forgotten how to play themselves. Morale is still pretty high, though. Thanks again for reading the book three times, and all good wishes to your book group.

      1. Dear Chris,

        I just finished The Other Hand and have been scanning the comments and reactions on this page. I find it fascinating, that you mention, “As a novelist I’m always trying on other people’s lives for size,” because it was slipping into Little Bee’s perspective and mindset while telling the story that got me thinking about how we’ve organized our comfortable lives in the “first world”. An example that I thought was ingenious was Little Bee’s discovery of the skeleton wearing Ray-Bans in a jeep in the jungle. Putting a brand name on an item we wear or use is something we’re quite used to. We hardly ever stop to question why we do so. And yet, when looking at it from Little Bee’s perspective it almost seems silly. I loved this about the book, because you invited to us to look at parts of our daily lives more critically, like Little Bee might.

        Thank you for the eye-opener! I find that I’m inspired and intrigued and want to know more. Thanks again!

        Warm regards,


  6. I received Little Bee from a friend with no comment from her about the story. Now only half-way through the book, I’m completely engrossed and can only think more highly of my generous friend. Stunningly conceived and written, the book is a treasure. Can hardly wait for the golden pot at the end. I’m positive it’ll be there.

    1. Hi Gloria, thanks very much for reading the book. I’m glad you’re enjoying it at the halfway point. Now you’re making me slightly nervous, hoping for a pot of gold at the end. I can’t remember for sure whether I left one there or not…

  7. All the way across the water here in Minnesota. Someone gave me your book – the other hand – and I went on until I finished it. Time out for toast and tea. Otherwise, it held me. Wonderful story and wonderful people. Little Bee is a star. Keep going. We need more stuff
    to keep the sun shining.

    1. Hi John – thank you very much for reading the book and for taking the time to leave such a kind & encouraging message. It really does help me to keep working. All good wishes to you in Minnesota!

  8. Mr Cleave, thank you very much for sharing your gift with us. I’m the father of a 2 year old, and I really can’t put into words the profound effect this book has had on me. I do not want my child to grow up into a world that is callous and stupid, either. Thanks for trying to show us what the other hand has been doing. (I’ve always hated that verse!)

    Good luck on your current book.

  9. The most remarkably moving book I have ever read. I felt guilty to smile, let alone laugh out loud, at the humour delivered within the incredible horror delivered in your awesome prose. I wish i had your skill to truly describe the avalanche of sorrow that so often overcame as I read this must read.

  10. I picked up a copy of ‘Incendiary’ in the holiday cottage we stayed in during February Half Term. It is not the type of book I usually read but I was enthralled from the start. I found it deeply disturbing in places but could not put it down and read it in a day. Half way through I realised that the author (you!) Was male. I was amazed as you have such insight in to female emotions, judgements and thinking. I’ve just finished reading ‘the other hand’ an equally interesting and unique story of relationships. Will be getting a copy of ‘Gold’ asap and have recommended your books to many friends. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to think about things that I normally don’t.

  11. A amazing book. It was really touching. Thank you for a wonderful read from Greece with love! PS. In Greece the title is Hold me tight… not so successful as the story…

  12. Thanks in an uncountable way. I got a call from my classmate when the parcel arrived and I just knew its something from you. I thought I had guessed wrongly on touching the parcel,more than one book.However I was wowed when I found out you sent the three.I AM SPEECHLESS.I see a lasting relationship between us. You will endorse my book when I am done. thanks.but wouldn’t it be better we communicate via email? mine is.You are limitless for making me feel wanted and loved.GOD BLESS

    1. Hi Thankgod – my pleasure – I’m delighted the books arrived safely & I hope you’ll enjoy them.

  13. Hello Sir! I’m surprised not to have received the book you promised me; “the other hand” I still searched in bookstands during literary festivals and book fairs but am yet to find it. Help me send it incase you forgot. Thanks

    1. Hi Thank-God – I’m sorry the book has not arrived & will gladly try again. Can you let me have your postal address again please?

  14. Dear Mr Cleave,

    I’m very happy I found and read The Other hand. I could never imagine that there is still a book that could shatter me like this. It was like taking the thoughts from the depths of one’s soul and turning them into words. I became a slightly different person after finishing to read this book. Though I felt devastated at the moments I had also a feeling that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us. Thank You.

  15. Dear Chris Cleave,

    I bought your book in February this year, compelling as it was, I found it continued to affect me afterwards. I am currently using ‘The Other Hand’ as my set text in discussing the representation of asylum seekers as part of a report for a module at University. Other people in my group have been touched by your novel. It’s inspiring and fresh to have a writer such as yourself embracing themes and subjects that others seem to shy away from. It is profound.

    Thank you.

  16. Dear Cleave,
    There is something in your book that makes me feel such a way that I can’t explain. While reading, at one page I was laughing and at another I was crying.
    Thank you for writing “the other hand” and greetings from Turkey 🙂

  17. Hi Chris, (sorry this is rather longer than I antcipated!)
    After I admit rather honestly.. 🙂 that your book has been amongst a pile of unread ones on my shelve until Sunday, I have just this moment finished The Other Hand… THANKYOU!
    I have been unable to put it down and that has not happened for a long time..I only wish I read it sooner, although having said that..perhaps the timing was right, as I will go on to explain.
    I have never written to an author before but to echo some of the comments above..I felt as if I needed to, having gone on the journey with Little Bee and Sarah and the way it made me feel so many emotions, then onto your website…seeing the passion for your art is wonderful…I cannot wait to read Gold!

    The great thing about your novel is I didn’t know what to expect and so had no idea I would be reading about something I already feel passionate about. Not to mention my love for Kingston, having been a student close by during my Uni years at Roehampton where our campus was very close to Richmond Park and many memories were revisited from there, when is a beautiful park.
    The book also sparked other memories for me; I worked in Peckham and the sorrounding areas for 4 years, for a charity supporting disabled children and their families..most of whom were or had in their families refugees and families in temporary accomadation waiting for status but with no recourse to public funds, from Africa; I worked with families from mainly Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Congo, but also Rwanda and Nairobi…all with as you can imagine strong cultural histories and horrific stories to tell. But their main focus was their children and their battle of not only being in Britain but dealing with trying to find support for their disabled child/ren. One of the reocurring themes was the fear of how their child would be treated if they returned many places disability isn’t regarded as it is here. As well as the terrifying ordeal of coming to terms with the fact some of these children were products of rape.

    Being a young, white middle class woman in my first real eyes were massively opened and the images of Africa on Comic Relief, which I think inspired me to want to do something from an early age became more real, all around me. But amongst all the bad stuff, I enjoyed working in such a strong, vibrant community and met some incrediable people and learnt so much about myself. I have 2 great friends from Nigerian background who I am also going to reccomend your novel too!

    I have always had an interest in Africa and have volunteered in Ghana, teaching in a school and travelled around and want to see so much more of this incrediable continent and I will, with hopefully my new skills.. I am currently studying a Diploma in Child Counselling using Intergrative Arts and once a little established here after gaining my accreditation my hope is to return to Africa and work with children and families who have been through trauma and use the Arts with them as a form of therapy….I am sure I will be learning from them! This is why reading your book now has been such good timing…
    What has been amazing and I thankyou for this is the realisation that story telling and writing is such a special art and creates such imagery to the individual reader. I had such a strong visual for Little Bee and Sarah, as well as the others due to your wonderful, not only physical but mental descriptions of the characters and the way they felt/thought-this is what made their stories so believable and took me right to the heart of the novel, as it unfolded. I have ummed and ahhhd with the attempt of writing a book and feel more inspired to do so now so THANKYOU!

    I also wanted to ask you, as it seems a hot topic at the moment to send your novel to David Cameron!
    Seriously though, as much as I agree with you and feel like more needs to be done to rid the stigma attatched to asylum seekers in the UK, we are facing a huge immigration problem and we are only an island..where do you think things will be in 5 years time?
    I think your novel offers readers a choice…1) to learn about refugees and the journeys they take to get here, in a safe/less scary ‘it’s only a story that made me shed a tear, now I can get back to my ‘normal’ life kind of way or
    2) People realising that Little Bee’s story could easily be true and to get their head out of the sand, and perhaps before where someone may have a strong or no opinion at all on these issues suddenly realises they do want to do something about it!
    I hope it’s the latter 🙂

    Thankyou for introducing me to Little Bee and Sarah and bringing their worlds together, highlighting the differences and yet similarities we as humans all have. Thankyou for moving me and inspiring me further in my ambition. You have a gift-Thankyou for sharing it.

    Best Wishes,

  18. Chris,
    (I am 14 years old an i live in Holland. So my english is not so gold as that of an english wormen, so i Will Mayby make Somers mistackes.)

    What cane i say? I loved your book, i loved it really really much. Its been a few weeks now sinds i read your book and i still have to think about the stort every dat, i read THE other hand about 5 times now and every time i read it i still have to cry and laugh out loud.

    You did such a good job writting this book.

    I hope You Will never stop writting books,

    Greetings from Holland,

  19. Thank you for writing ‘The Other Hand’. I read it and was overwhelmed with emotions several times. I read it in hurry because I was afraid if I put it down I would lose its pulse. I wonder if I should read it again only to savor the beautiful words. But maybe I wouldn’t have enough heart to do that.

  20. Hi Chris, I was wondering if I had your permission to use the image of this book for my website as I am writing a review for it? I would be very grateful as I am a huge fan of the novel.
    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for reviewing the book – much appreciated. I’ll look forward to reading it. Yes, it’s fine to use the cover of the book in a review – no problem at all.

  21. Hi Chris,

    As I told you in my previous tweets that I have some views on your novel “The Other Hand”.
    First of all, I am very interested in the way and the style you present such a new theme which, as far as I know, has never been discussed by any other modern writer.In other words, the story appears to be a way of saying how do other think about UK and what it looks like when it comes to reality, in particular young people who always dream of immigrating and settling there.This is clear at the beginning when the four girls, including Little Bee, were released from the detention centre.Each one of them was thinking of UK as she always dreamt of or told about.
    Another thing is that I do not like the way the male characters behave especially Andrew.Charlie the little boy seems to be confused about real life wearing “Batman costumes” which indicates that this child does not want to live that life of adults which is full of “baddies” and has no “goodies” to make it deserves living it in reality.
    Females on the other hand are restless dealing with men as differently.Take in comparison Sarah and Little Bee.Sarah thinks that everything she has done so far in her life is not her choice including her marriage from Andrew and her job as well as being a mother.She likes the idea that having the affair with Lawrence as the only good choice in her life, however at sometime she appears to be uncertain about her relationship with him as he is selfish as any other male.
    Little Bee does not want to be in contact with males and smile at them as they do in her village.She had bad experience of them.This can be the reason to make her escape from the idea of being in touch with them.When she saw Andrew hanging himself, she said to herself “let him die” as he did not want to cut his finger to save me or my sister.
    In general, I think this story is a modern style to deal with some issues in a way that enables anyone to understand its theme in the way he/she likes it.
    Thank you for this wonderful story looking forward to reading many other ones of such high quality.
    Finally, here is a little bit about myself.I am Sudanese.I obtained the BA in English language & literature in 1995.I have been a teacher, Arabic/English interpreter and translator for a long time.I am here in UK to do an MA in teaching and linguistics.
    Best Regards

  22. Hi Chris,

    As I told you in my previous tweets that I have some views on your novel “The Other Hand”.
    First of all, I am very interested in the way and the style you present such a new theme which, as far as I know, has never been discussed by any other modern writer.In other words, the story appears to be a way of saying how do other think about UK and what it looks like when it comes to reality, in particular young people who always dream of immigrating and settling there.This is clear at the beginning when the four girls, including Little Bee, were released from the detention centre.Each one of them was thinking of UK as she always dreamt or told about it.
    Another thing is that I do not like the way the male characters behave especially Andrew.Charlie the little boy seems to be confused about real life wearing t “Batman costumes” which indicates that this child does not want to live that life of adults which is full of “baddies” and has no “goodies” to make it deserves living it in reality.
    Females on the other hand are restless dealing with men as differently.Take in comparison Sarah and Little Bee.Sarah thinks that everything she has done so far in her life is not her choice including her marriage from Andrew and her job as well as being a mother.She likes the idea that having the affair with Lawrence as the only good choice in her life, however at sometime she appears to be uncertain about her relationship with him as he is selfish as any other male.
    Little Bee does not want to be in contact with males and smile at them as they do in her village.She had bad experience of them.This can be the reason to make her escape from the idea of being in touch with them.When she saw Andrew hanging himself, she said to herself “let him die” as he did not want to cut his finger to save me or my sister.
    In general, I think this story is a modern style to deal with some issues in way that enables anyone to understand its theme in the way he/she likes it.
    Thank you for this wonderful story looking forward to reading many other ones of such high quality as one.
    Finally, here is a little bit about myself.I am Sudanese.I obtained the BA in English language & literature in 1995.I have been a teacher, Arabic/English interpreter and translator for a long time.I am here in UK to do an MA in teaching or linguistics.
    Best Regards

  23. Dear Chris Cleave,

    I am a student in germany and we read “The other hand” in the English lesson and I thibk it’s brilliant, because it is written in basic English, so we all understood it. We discussed about what you might wanted to say with your book and many said that you were critisizing the European governments. Many people don’t know about what is happening to immigrants and the people who know about it, are either scared of critisizing or they just don’t care about that.
    I think it’s a good book. I am writing some books in English, too, but nobody wants to read them here, because only a few are very god in English to understand it. When I read your book, I noticed that I have many mistakes in my book. I hope I will be a successful author like you one day. If I can find your other books in germany I will read them, too.

    nice greetings

  24. Thank you……I will surely enjoy it as the first page of chapter one gripped me…..I know your book will give me a kick…for me to begin my writing adventure on a million causes of tears in Nigeris.

  25. I just finish the book. I mean, a minute ago. I must say that I couldn’t make any connection with it, I read it to the end waiting for the moment in which I will understand the conflict and it all will make sense, but I didn’t find it. Maybe I am living a totally different life and I just don’t get it. I am a latin american 30yo guy living in Taiwan, and maybe I just jumped all the culture in between.
    But I also must say that beyond the fact that the story didn’t make any click on me, I read the book with a pencil by my side and I marked around 35 beautiful ideas that you expressed on it. I also liked the mixed chapters with both characters stories, but usually I tried to read Sarah’s faster because Little Bee was much more interesting.

  26. Dear Chris,

    I read The Other Hand several years ago and have reread it several times since. Every second spent with this book is a revelation and a road to self discovery and I cherish it deeply.

    The Other Hand touched my heart and my mind in a way that I only remember happening once before – when I read A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner.

    I am hopeful for the future of a world where people like you exist and share their gift with their readers in such a profoundly intimate, sincere and unforgettable way.

    I look forward to GOLD as I am sure it is as a powerful and full experience, as The Other Hand and Incendiary.

    Please do not ever stop writing and giving us those incredible stories!

    Thank you for being!

  27. Hello dad,I would be glad to recieve a copy of your book ‘THE OTHER HAND’ as you promised above_22 feb 2012.You can send it to my local church’s address:Emmanuel anglican church,umuchiaku Lowa, 154,ihitte/uboma L.g.a,imo state,Nigeria.send it with my dad’s name: Lambert Eboh ’cause he’s known there.don’t mind my grammatical heart is hanging.i can’t wait.have a blissful day 2nd dad.

    1. Hi Thankgod, thank you for the address – I will put the book in the post today. I hope you’ll enjoy it! All good wishes – Chris

  28. Dear Chris

    I have just finished your absolutely fantastic book!
    I’m a young girl whose interest in and passion for literature has always been great, but unfortunately there is often far between the really good and unforgettable novels. However, I now have been so privileged to have had the opportunity to let myself empathize in your novel – one of the best, most relevant and touching novels I’ve read for a very long time. It has made me laugh and cry. A true masterpiece! Your book will always has a place in my bookshelf. Your writing style is simply superb, the story is extremely compassionate, touching and relevant to society, your characters gain their own lives and will keep on living in the reader’s thoughts for a very long time after the final crucial – but beautiful – page of the book is reversed …

    All the best


    (from Denmark)

  29. I beleive everything happens for a reason, and I found this book by accident, it was amongst a donation to my bookshop, I read it in two days. I sobbed, raged and laughed and marvelled at the beauty of it. It gives me hope that we can change the world with how we feel. Thank you Chris for a truly mind blowing book, there are people out there that care after all x

  30. HI,
    I have just finished your book through a bucket of tears. I fell in love with the characters and didn’t want to leave them. Once again I am reminded of how lucky I am to live in this country (even though our government are behaving like a bunch of monkeys at the moment!), to have the freedom to choose the way in which we live.
    I will recommend your book to anyone who will listen and will be going back to the bookstore to buy your other book.
    Thank you for a wonderful story.
    Christine from Australia

  31. Yello Daddy Chris Cleave
    I got a glimpse of your book THE OTHER HAND during a radio house’s impact converge.I only skimmed through the chapter one and a few others.I have searched all bookshops around my locality as a child searches for a missing toy,yet to find this gripping book of yours.I want to read it.I know that its worth the comments ABOVE.What else ?I am dumbfounded as I only starved my taste buds.I MUST FIND IT…NO MATTER HOW LONG..I MUST READ IT…..I am an aspiring writer….hoping to exceed my expectations…ride on!your best is yet to come.keep walking on the paths of heroes.TAKE CHARGE.

    1. Hi Thank-God – thank you for your excellent comment, which has made my day. I have spare copies of the book so I can send you one if you like. I could mail it to your local bookstore for you to collect if you can post the address. Hope you will enjoy it! All good wishes, Chris

  32. Living in Africa but being British I was able to see so many wonderful elements being brought together in this truly stunning novel. I’m afraid in our little town in Tanzania there is no book shop so my constant chat about your novel is encouraging readers but not sales for the moment! I will write a review for my blog though. Anyway, just wanted you to know I was blown away. If I could get my novel to reflect just a little of the poetry you put into your prose I’ll be on my way to getting published (so far I’m mostly busy discovering how much tougher it is to please the mass market than I thought! – judging by the amazing comments on here you have easily mastered that!). Thank you for your art. I will certainly keep reading! Best wishes, Mel

    1. Hi Melissa – thanks for your very kind words, and all good wishes for your own writing. If it’s any help to know, I wrote several novels which weren’t quite there before I found my stride. It took me about ten years of slow improvement before my style started to come together, and I still find the writing process frightening and difficult. Also, I don’t think it’s worth worrying about how to please the market. I just tend to write stuff to please myself, and if other people like it then so much the better. There are fashions in literature as in everything else, and I think one just has to accept that one’s style will come in and out of fashion. I reckon that if we as writers are true to our own vision of things, then people (and hopefully a lot of people!) will from time to time be interested in what we have to say.

  33. Reading this book was one of the best just not reading experiences but life experiences. I hope you write more books soon. I’ve read lot lot lot of books in my life but this is definitely THE Best. Thank you for this beautiful gift to us. God bless you.

    (sorry for my bad english)
    An african girl from Finland

    1. Henrienne – wow: I’ve read a lot of comments in my life but this is definitely THE best. It means a great deal to me – thank you.

  34. Dear Chris,
    I have read many books but have never felt the need to write to the author. I have three children aged 5, 3 and 4months but i still found the time to read this book faster than i have read any book before. i even learned how to hold the baby and feed her with just one hand so i cold hold the book in the other hand and carry on reading as i fed her. i borrowed the book after buying it for my sister and do not want to give it back because I want the story to stay in my house. I cried when it ended, for two reasons i think, one because of what i think happened next and two because the book was finished. i have recommended the book to everyone i am friends with on facebook. i feel everyone should read it. it reminded me of ‘Do they hear you when you cry’. surely your story should be made into a drama so more people can access it. i have looked into volunteering at a refugee charity and have chaned my will to leave money to such a charity. this book is truly inspiring

  35. Dear Chris,
    A beautiful, beautiful book. The only book that has ever brought me to tears. Thank-you for this and thank-you for drawing attention to these issues, I only hope one day I will be able to do something too.

  36. Mr. Cleave,
    I’ve read your wonderful book fluently, without giving it up in five days. It was possible to read it in a shorter time period because of its easy reading, but I wanted to give me an extra time to live the book by myself also.
    In Turkey, a new book has been published recently by a well-known famous writer-singer-film director-newspaper corner writer (all in one ). While reading it, I felt that I was reading a Chris Reave book. Its design and planning is highly similar with ”The Other Hand”.
    Please take a notice for this situation.

    Name of the book in Turkey is ”SERENAD”, and the writer(?) is ”ZÜLFÜ LİVANELİ”. The publisher is ”DOĞAN KİTAP”

  37. “It was disorienting, like having the entire contents of one’s address book dressed in black and exported into pews in nonalphabetical order” (24). I think that is one of the best sentences I have ever read — and I read a LOT! What a story! very moving, funny, believable, bittersweet, filled with astute observations…

  38. Dear Chris,

    I am very surprised to discover that you are a man.
    After finishing the Other Hand, and wiping away my tears, I jumped on your website to find out more about you and bam! There you were – quite obviously not the woman I had assumed you were, from your fantastic narration by not one, but two, very remarkable and believable female characters.

    That is the second thing I wanted to say to you. The first, before your photo caught me by surprise, is THANK YOU.
    Your book – the characters, the horror and the tenderness, and the beautiful, captivating narration – caught me off-guard, like your photo, and from the very first paragraph I lost myself wholeheartedly into its pages, I drank it in with big thirsty gulps. It not so much reminded me of what I love about fiction – plenty of other books have done that – but it reminded me of what I love about real life and real people. It is stirring, realistic and rare. Thank you so much.

    Tasmania, Australia

    PS. I have read and love your short story Fresh Water too. Wonderful! Where can I get a copy of Sea Stories?

  39. I found the writing fantastic, easy, free flowing. But I am left highly frustrated by the portrayal of those from developing countries, which suggests under-education. Under-eduction in whose society you might ask? In some sections Little Bee appears to wise of western life, yet in others she is the little mud hut girl that doesn’t know a thing. It is disappointing that the editors of the book did not pick up such poor inconsistencies. I thought the first chapter was excellent. After that I was lost and frustrated with the lack of reality — I know that the author meant well with this book, and after all it is a work of fiction, I just feel he could have done so much more if he’d done a bit more research on the things he was writing about. In many respects this book gives misinformation on some of the key issues the author is trying to address. To the western reviewers, who are unlikely to know much about the issues the author addresses, this is a great book. To anyone who knows the issues first hand, the book is a step backward. It could have been so much more, but as I said, this book is just fiction, so not sure what I was expecting really, perhaps the truth? Very disappointed.

    1. Dear Cameron, Thank you for reading the book and for taking the time to leave a comment. In fact the novel is extensively researched and I hope I would be able to defend it against any specific criticism you cared to make. However, you’re not making specific criticisms here. If you can provide examples of passages that offend, I will be happy to look at them and respond to you in the light of your comments. Kind regards, Chris.

  40. Dear Chris,

    I’ve enjoyed so many books throughout my life and, I’m ashamed to say, it had never occurred to me to write to the author and tell them exactly what impact their story has had upon me. I’ve just finished reading The Other Hand and to say that it is one of ‘the best books I’ve ever read’ just doesn’t feel good enough! The struggles and difficulties I’ve had in my life are nothing in comparison to the characters in The Other Hand. Yet, the strength and determination you created in Little Bee and Sarah has certainly inspired me. I’m an English teacher and only wish I taught 6th Form and not Primary so that I could recommend this book to them as I have done to so many friends!

    Thank you for a wonderful read. I’m currently half way through Incendiary and I can’t even begin to use words to describe how much I am enthralled, saddened, gripped and determined for each character.

    I hope you read this and thank you once again for bringing two wonderful stories to my half term! x

  41. Hi Chris, I just wanted to ask you what did you mean by the word “wahala” in the sentence “There was plenty wahala, that girl done use her bottom power to engage my number one son and anyone could see she would end in the bad bush. “?
    I was very much impressed by reading THE OTHER HAND, it’s simply amazing! 😉

  42. Chris

    I’ve just finished reading “the other hand”. I was touched by your flow of words and the simplicity with which you tell the story from 2 peoples persepctives. I was hooked from the first few pages. It is a very powerful and moving story…..which makes me appreciate all that i have in my simple but content life. i havent enjoyed a book like yours in years………but it has made me far more discering in what i’ll accept as a baseline as there’s too much junk out there

  43. Dear Cleave!

    I am reading your amazing book (The other hand), not finished it yet, but I gotta tell you I don’t remember the last time I was enjoying reading a book with this excitement and pleasure. I have huge respect for you for this masterpiece, and I already recommended your book to my friends and planning to buy one for my girlfriend! It’s a beautiful (sad thou) story, but it sure has a lot of messages for us humans to learn how to act like humans should. I appreciate you for that! Much love and respect!

  44. I read the whole of “The Other Hand” yesterday. You have mastered the art of the storyteller from the donkey work of research to the difficulty of finding a conclusion. Credible and moving. I will be recommending your book to everyone.

  45. Hi Chris

    I’m rather embarrassed to admit I wasn’t familiar with your writing until I picked up a copy of ‘The Other Hand’ on display in Waterstones a few weeks ago. What a brilliant story, I couldn’t put it down. Not surprisingly I returned to Waterstones today to buy Incendiary. Perhaps next time you’re in school you’ll sign my copy. LOL

    Best wishes
    Elaine Rodgers

  46. Mandy-
    Haven’t you read Little Bee? An amazing, touching, beautifully written book. A must read. Anxiously awaiting another Cleave masterpiece…

  47. Dear Cleave

    Reading your novel was such an inspiration,and believe me,I never felt this way before reading a book.Thank you for your sensibility about this drama so brightly exposed.
    Congratulations for all the characters but I can’t forget the amazing and funny little Charlie.

    Cumpliments from Portugal

  48. dear chris
    when are we going to get a new book ?. your two books are probably some of the best i have ever read, i loved incendiary it was so unique, and the other hand was so touching but shocking, i keep looking on various web sites but no news. i have recommended your books to so many people. In a good way, i buy a lot of my books from charity shops, but often smile when i see yours there because they have been read then sent on for others to enjoy. I cant wait to see what unique subject you will pick for your next novel, i dont know of any other person that writes like you do. We have a book swap at work and it was here that i picked up incendiary, i couldnt put it down and even my other half read it. Many thanks mandy

  49. Dear Cleave,

    Must say it is a very beautiful book. It is really touching, and the way the story unfolds is nothing short of magic. I am half way through it now.

    What amazes me is that being a guy, you could write a narrative from 2 women’s perspectives. That is something…! 🙂

  50. I think everyone in the UK should read this book. It makes me cry with exasperation that so many ignorant reactionary fools can pedal all the lies about asylum seekers and refugees living lives of luxury at the taxpayers expense, and never stopping to think for one second what those real human beings have been through, the terror, the pain, the loss, and then to face the cruelty of our “welcome” and for that to be better than what they’ve escaped.

    We suffer in the UK from our liberal democracy, it leaves us with no concept of what else life can be like, and for some of us, shamefully, it destroys empathy and compssion.

    You could also add the Refugee Council to your links

  51. Dear Mr. Cleave,

    I just finished your book “The Other Hand”.

    I liked the story, because it could have really happened. I liked the way you tell this story, even though it was responsible for a sleepless night (could not stop reading!) I loved each character, especially little Batman.

    Your novel was a present – Now I am looking forward to read more from you.

    Kind regards from Hamburg,


  52. hello to me in another world, journeyed through the book and I really enjoyed this trip. therefore I want to thank you.

    from Turkey, Mehmet

  53. I’ve just finished now. I found man’s inhumanity to man
    dreadfully confronting, wondered whether the book needed to be quite
    so graphic to achieve its purpose and nearly could not go on.
    But did.
    How much does the world know about the murder and desecration
    that goes on inorder for their acquisitive goals to be achieved ??
    The Oil companies have a lot to answer for.
    This is really what the book’s declaration is about …very important now
    as the true state of the world’s monetary/ethical character is being revealed. !!
    Batman was right to feel he needed a disguise inorder to fight off
    all the baddies,… with his suit peeled off , would he as ‘Charlie’ be able to
    still fight off the baddies ? So young to find the baddies can take away
    his little Bee, something he won’t forget.!

  54. Hi Chris,

    I am Elke from little Belgium. (Kortrijk)
    I have read your two books (translated in Dutch 🙂 ) and they are fantastic!!!
    I can’t wait to read your next book!!!
    When do you end up next book?

    Lots of love,

  55. Chris Cleave,

    I am sixteen years old and my dream is to be a writer. Your book “the other hand” (which I just finished today) has truely inspired me. It will stand out forever as one of those books that made me want to write. It’s a tough road to go down, being an aspiring writer, but reading a book like “the other hand” makes me know that it can be worth everything. Thanks a million!


  56. Hi Chris! I have just read your book “little bee” and it affected me very much. Now, I’m reading “Incendiary”. I haven’t finished it, yet. I love your books. They are so sensitive. Good luck 🙂
    Love from İzmir-Turkey

  57. Hi Chris

    I have just finished The Other Hand and I wanted to let you know how much I ejoyed it. What an incredibly sad, and yet uplifting novel. An absolute triumph!
    I work as a bookseller and will be recommending your novel as much as possible.

  58. I finished your book today, it really is amazing. I am from an english, I do not know. So I’m making what I typed in the dictionary.

  59. A fantastically memorable book. Heartbreaking and funny and significant. I was amazed and surprised at the end of it when I looked you up on a sight to find out that you were a man speaking through two woman. An amazing feat. Then I couldn’t work out if you were black skinned or white. I thought you might be a Brittish man of ethnic parents from another land. I am eigthy and with the years have come to the conclusion myself that neither skin colour nor place of birth, nor relegion can seperate us from our hunanity which is given to us by God in my belief and we are all brothers and sisters. your wonderful book said that to me.
    Joan Hickey

  60. I see what you’re saying in chapter3about us watching films to get a sense of horror /fear others feel on daily basis but some people in Britain do carry that same fear within. I’ve lost 6 out of 7 pregnancies and that has given me a similiar experience of the cruelity that life can throw at you.

  61. Dear Mr Cleave,
    a few months ago I read your book. It’s amazing I couldn’t stop reading it…
    Since I am a translator I would like to Know if anyone asked you to translate it into italian or if it has already been translated.
    Thank you very much in advance.

  62. Hi Chris,
    It has just reached my attention while enjoying my time in a bookstore in Türkiye-Istanbul, from many of the others (and most of them translated to Turkish) I just bought it, even though I’ve never heard about you before. it wasn’t like reading but living the story of Little Bee and Sarah, even Batman:), heat of the beach, fear of Bee and confusion of a word “brilliant” Chris. Keep on and let us live different stories:) with love

  63. Dear Chris,

    I was carried away by your lecture at Seattle Central Library at 7pm today. Your book is inspirational. Thank you for taking the time to sign it.

    1. Sana – thanks for your kind words & thank you for coming to the event. I enjoyed it too!

  64. I just finished reading Little Bee – at 00:30, in the middle of the night. Thank you for one of the best and most stunning and heartbreaking books that I have ever read. I love it from the first to the last page. Thank you very, very much. Rasmus.

  65. Dear Mr. Cleave,
    I’m 23, and I’m an English teacher from Spain. I’m reading “The other hand” right now (I’m on page 197 :-p). I was looking for a book written in English and I found yours in a book shop in a shopping mall of the city center of Madrid. Just wanted to let you know, so you can see how far your words can travel. Thanks,because I never feel sad or alone when I’m reading a good book, and your words are helping me a lot.

  66. Hi Mr Cleave its been 1o months that I work in a book store called Apeejay oxford book store here in Bhubaneswar, India I have sold alomost 40 copies of your work The other hand and believe me every one liked it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,beautiful peice of work.

  67. I read this book within and day… not only have i read it over & over again but i’ve recommended it to many of my friends.
    I’m only 15 but this book.. and the language you used. Everything about the book is interesting, heartbreaking and outstanding.

  68. Dear Chris.
    First of all I wanted to thank you for your marvelous book! It is really AMAZING! And what is more! It provokes the emotions!
    I have found your book in the apartment I lived in Cinkve Terra (Italy), I’m from Belarus and it is not easy for us to find good books in English, I have asked the Landlord to get this book with me to Belarus….
    What is really interested, being a linguist, I have used your book to write about usage of different dialects in British and American English (just as example for English usage).
    Thank you very much, as there are the references in my work to your magnificent book!

  69. I really didn’t think that a kind of book which I have read in a foreign language could affect me in this way. As soon as I finished it,I couldn’t stop thinking Little Bee,everywhere,every hour of a day!
    I really thank you to write such a book and thanks God,the world has such talented writers!! 🙂

  70. Hi, I just finished reading The Other Hand and my immediate response was that I loved it. Some of the sentences were so well crafted, the imagery so unique and as a New Zealander now holding dual Australian citizenship, and has struggled with the racism and lack of humanity and compassion found in Australia’ reaction to people seeking asylum, my heart sang to find a book that encapsulated so many of my beliefs around the importance of acting with compassion and grace towards people who have the misfortune to be seeking asylum. I loved that your book put a face and a soul to the issue. I loved that your book tackled this issue without coming off as preachy. However, one thing that troubled me, was that it appears that Sarah saves Little Bee (through cutting off her finger/her presence in Nigeria on Little Bee’s return. It seems to imply that without the white person to actively rescue the brown person, the brown victim would passively die, and thus appears to perpetuate the myth of the white saviour and the helpless brown savage. I would have enjoyed it more if there had still been some sort of encounter but perhaps a reversal of roles, however I recognise this would have been difficult with your plot – less white guilt = Andrew lives, Sarah does not question her mundane choices etc and thus a whole different novel. I also queried whether Little Bee’s story was your story to voice, or if stories so deeply rooted in cultural identity and gender (especially minority groups or those who have often been silenced) should be voiced by people of said identity etc . Obviously you have decided yes, but I would be interested in hearing your reasons – I am not questioning your choice to tell of asylum seekers’ plights but your choice to voice their thoughts as first person narration – and I am not suggesting there is a right or a wrong answer either, just that it raises issues. I recognise that having grown up in Cameroon and having worked in a immigration centre, and the research you have undertaken obviously you have had perhaps more insight than others may have and you obviously deeply respect Little Bee and what she stands for. I have similar qualms with regards to another book with a female brown young narrator – Mister Pip – written also by a white man – Lloyd Jones (so it’s not you in particular, just a question I am wrestling with at the moment – who has the right to tell which stories?). I look forward to hearing from you.

    I too would love a sequel to Little Bee and I am going to go and borrow your first book from the library. Also, I wonder any hints about the subject of your third book?

  71. Dear Mr. Cleave,

    I have just finished “Little Bee”, a book that I picked up on a whim, after reading the backside; “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.” I must tell you, this book is simply astounding. I don’t think I have ever read anything quite like it, that has the potential to touch, change, and enlighten the lives of anyone that chooses to read it. Simply wonderful. When friends and family have asked me what it is about, I am simply at a loss to explain it. How can one do that with this? So, I’ve settled with telling everyone it is about; “Nothing good and everything wonderful that grows out of it.” And then asked them to read it too.

    Well done. I look forward to reading your future works, although I’m certain it will be with purpose and not a whim next time. One of the best whims I’ve indulged. Thank you!

  72. Thank you for Little Bee, I loved the special characters. I can’t wait to read your other books, please keep at it!

  73. Incendiary was a work of magic. I read it in 6 hours and blew off work. Luckily I work from home so didn’t get fired..:-) While it was a very sad story it was so beautifully written (kudos) that I just drank in the words. Very powerful and moving. I’m moving on to Little Bee next. I’m afraid to start reading it at night as I may end up blowing off sleep to finish. Can’t wait to see more from you Chris.

  74. I have just read The Other Hand and was enthralled from start to finish. A great book with an amazing story, very well told. I have also just finished Incendiary which had me hooked from page one . I look forward to reading more of your work Chris.

  75. Chris! I absolutely loved Little Bee and just now finished reading Incendiary- absolutely amazing. I couldnt put it down and ended up finishing the whole thing (while at work HAHA) I cant wait to see whats next! 🙂

  76. Dear Chris, I’m not sure why I bought a copy of The Other Hand, but I’m very glad I did. It’s opened my mind to a new way of thinking about it’s main subject matter. Thank you.

  77. Dear Mr. Cleave,
    my mother gave me your book for birthday, because I am going to spend a year in Africa. I’ve already read many books about this country but nothing has
    touched my heart as much as yours. It’s amazing! I couldn’t help but cry at the end. Actually I’m a big fan of happy endings but I think this time the story almost had to end like this, It’s nothing else but the truth you wrote.
    Thank you for writing this brilliant book.

    Laetitia ( Germany )

  78. I read ‘The Other Hand’ in one day after finding a copy of it in our staff room at School. I am a teacher of age 12-13 pupils and I was so inspired by your opening paragraph that we used it as a stimulus for a lesson in English. We also used a British pound coin to imagine it’s previous adventures.
    I just love your writing style, it moved me through a whole range of emotions.
    I have only just discovered your other title and will be going to buy it as soon as possible.
    Thank you!

  79. Dear Mr Cleave,

    Congratulations on your fantastic little bee! You are trully a gifted writer. I have laughed so much whenever liitle bee narrates it espescially when she says “how dare you” and the scene when queing for the phone at the detention centre. I have also cried when batman throws a fit at his father’s funeral. I have never laughed and cried so much in one novel though, i do wish it has a happier ending..maybe you are planning for a sequel since it leaves us the reader hanging?Anyway once again, congratulations! I look forward to your new book…

  80. Dear Chris

    I got your book almost by coincidence when I was visiting my son the other day. His girlfriend gave it to me, just when I was about to leave and I took it and promised to read it. Honestly more out of politeness than of real interest in this moment. For a couple of days it lay on my desk until I finally took it an started to read. Then something extraordinary happened. Almost immediately I was struck by a rare surprise. Absolutely unforeseen thoughts and fascinating images emerged in my mind. In a moment I became addicted to the tales of this 16 year old african girl. Through her eyes I saw a world that ought to be familiar to me but looked as strange as any foreign environment could ever be. It was like drowning in someone elses traumata.

    For very long time I have not felt such an intense fascination for a book. All my thoughts circled around the story and I still have flashbacks when fragments of situations and incidents come back to my mind.

    Thanks for telling this story.

    Best regards

    (from Germany)

  81. When you have lived, as I have, the unimaginable, you often find yourself shocked that you have let others hear you laughing in the middle of the horror. I think what was so friendly about Little Bee was that her humor came from a willingness to try to understand the next step in a world that is not built of next steps but of cosmic stuttering, miscopied strands of genes, and personal harmonies that are arranged inside our psyches the way that liver is plopped down in our guts. Of course there are mines in the field. Of course people are walking through the field and not getting blown up. Of course someone has to be the next person. If you know this simple, logical truth, and you must walk through the field, then it is really a very nice thing to hear someone else laughing at the absurdity of it. Oh, look–now everyone’s part of a flash mob. In the middle of the mine field they are performing “It Was a Real Nice Clambake.” I am sure that it was a real nice clambake, but shellfish are so tricky, and I hear that 85 percent of the oyster beds in the world are compromised now. I love a flash mob as much as the next fellow, but just don’t ask me to believe that the democratization of the American musical is ushering in the reign of peace.

    When it gets worse than you can bear and you are one of the only survivors, you aren’t afraid to read about tsunamis, genocide, and Ebola virus. You know that just like everyone else you would survive or you wouldn’t. This simple fact makes us laugh sometimes. Little Bee, and the woman who was Petra Sutherland (not Petra Sutherland herself) seem to know this. It was uncanny. I can never explain to anyone why I look at all the details involved in crossing the road and how much they can be like unzipping body bags to find where a friend has gone off to. But the sheer exuberance of your characters’ logic made me laugh, and laugh, and laugh. It is hard to see the details, but it is hilarious to watch someone else (e.g., Petra Sutherland) making sense out of details in a brilliant way when those details are a colossal attempt not to see the lines on the map, to see that to love fashion is noble in it’s own way but that opening your eyes means, even knowing that it is noble, that you ultimately are going to see Armani in flames. It’s just a fact. One fashion designer has to be the first to go, but they all will succumb eventually, even if they don’t burn they will still burn out. Where are the Balenciagas that fell last year?

    I have no idea if you have had loved ones blown up or family members tortured and killed in your presence, like your characters have had. But I do know that trying to make sense out of the day is impossible for you. It is wonderful how you write about that. How you know that a person can go through a day, make no sense of anything, demand no less than clarity, keep going on, hide, start over, be amazed that no one really has any clue that it isn’t that we endure the unbearable, but that it crushes us and we respond by trying to make sense of the details, get up again, go on, wait our turn. And that sometimes, in between bouts of post traumatic blitzes, we get, deep down inside, that, not as a complement to or a completion of, not as anything meaning anything, there is also humor and that everything contradicts everything. Being a member of the Can You Top This Horror? club doesn’t mean you are going to just sit around looking like Prince Hamlet or the Little Princess. It means that you are going to laugh at things no one else would ever understand and they are going to worry about you–or leave you alone for a long time.

    I’ve shared having endured the unimaginable with people before. But I’ve never had the sense that someone out there knew how useful and unbearable logic is when you are a survivor. Or when you are just trying to make sense of doing the laundry, buying a vacuum cleaner, sending a campaign contribution to a political candidate, reading about children sold into sex traffic. It meant the world to me. I’ve never encountered it elsewhere.

    I’m very, very happy that I didn’t have to bring up the “penultimate” issue. That would have, I think, made my whole message to you seem somehow so less serious, and I wouldn’t have wanted to risk that, but I’m not sure I could have just let it lie there ignored, like a hot dog on the floor of a theater lobby. It’s just a kind of thing that no one wants to point out when you’re ready to walk into the dark and see “The King’s Speech,” is it? But you don’t really want to spend the whole movie thinking about a sad, naked hot dog on tiled floor. Unless you’ve somehow been dragged back in to watch “Avatar” again. I am the only person I know who fell asleep during that film. I don’t think I understood it any better than I understood “A Passage to India” and that was ever so long ago.

    You may not understand this entirely, but this is a fan letter. Fanaticism, I have no discovered, is like puppy love. You overdo everything. I’ve overdone some very important things in writing this to you–and I will regret them no doubt. But I don’t know how else to say your novels mattered to me.

  82. Hello… I discovered “Little Bee” yesterday and have yet to put it down. While I am not far enough thru it to give a completed thought to your tale, I am engrossed enough to say “love, love, love it”. Can’t wait to finish it…and then back-track a bit to your first work. Wishing you the best, Bina (Orange County,CA, USA)

  83. In the midst of horror I found hope and humour! Thank you Chris for a “different” kind of book. I could not put it down. I had it with me night and day during the time I read it. The persons in the book came alive and I felt that I was sharing their life. All the horror, but also the hope. For me this book is a prisal of life. All the best to you with your future projects. Best regards, Catarina (from Finland)

  84. Firstly, I enjoyed your writing very much. I operate a small, for fun, web site at where I highlight the general typographical and occasional misinformation that I find in books that I’m reading. I do this mostly because it seems like many current publishing houses are using spell-checking software rather than actual humans to proof their books, something that’s very frustrating for a reader. I found no such errors in Little Bee, but I did find one thing that concerns me. When the character Andrew is intoning playfully about the honeymoon see you write: “He hung on the penultimate syllable, deepening his voice in comic pomposity even as he raised his eyebrows. INN-digo, he boomed.” I can understand why you wouldn’t stop the flow of the narrative to use the word “antepenultimate” in the narrative, but why not just say “first” syllable rather than be incorrect? Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Patrick – thank you; you are quite correct. (As we say in London, “It’s a fair cop – I’ll come quietly”).

      I will talk with my publishers to see if my mistake can be fixed in future printings.

      I am lucky to have excellent publishers who check copy the old-fashioned way, and they catch most of my errors. For the occasional one that slips through the net, I am grateful to have skilled readers like you. Thanks for taking the trouble.

      All best,

  85. Dear Mr. CLeave,

    I just finished Little Bee and I must say, your use of the english language brought me to tears/laughter..When Batman jumped on his father’s grave I lost it. How were you as a male able to capture a Nigerian female so incredibly believable??? If I did not see your face on the back cover I would have bet you were a female..Your comparison to Sarah’s affair to that of being served an in-flight meal in a plane that is going to crash!!!! WOW… You truly have a gift!!

  86. Dear Mr. Cleaves,

    This afternoon, I finished reading your novel, Little Bee. I felt that even when your use of language was simple and straight forward, there was a beating heart behind your words that delivered true emotion and purpose to your story. Thank you for such beautifully written account of the struggle of this incredibly wise African girl. In her moments of uncertainty, I rooted for her. In her moments of appreciation and joy, I smiled with her. In her moments of sadness and anger, I was ashamed that I, a mere reader, could not provide her comfort. This book also opened my eyes to the deeply upsetting conditions of immigrant detention centers, and I will start researching this soon! I am going to pass this book on to my friends, and I am looking forward to reading your next book! Thank you for writing this amazing book.


  87. dear chris,
    i just finished ‘the other hand’ and found it truly special. it really touched me.
    now i miss little bees voice and views.
    thank you for writing it.
    all the best!

  88. hi chris.I have read your novel in the other hand.I think it is perfect.I have read the novel on the recommendation of my teacher much like your novel.your novel is fluent.I have read the book at school.While reading your book I did not even notice that we are entering the course.I finished your book in 1 day.I will recommend the book to anyone.I wish you success

    1. Thank you Elif – that means a lot to me. I wish you every success too, in your studies & in what comes next.
      All best,

  89. Chris,
    I read Little Bee in 1 day, I simply could not put it down after I started it while waiting for my flight from Miami to NYC. I even forgot (and subsequently lost) my iPhone on the plane, that’s how engrossed I was in the story. I will recommend it to all my friends, and I am planning on buying your 1st book next. And of course, I can’t wait to read your upcoming books too!
    I REALLY hope that Simon and Schuster will plan some book signings for you in the US once your new book is published.
    Much love from NYC!

    1. Aary, thank you for your kind words. And I’m sorry about your iPhone! If you are in NYC, I’m doing an event in Brooklyn tonight & one in Manhattan tomorrow (details on the front page of this website), so do come along if you’re free. I can’t replace your phone but I can sign your book!

  90. I was amazed and deeply touched by the novel. I remember feeling a lump and a strange pain while reading the book. You just tend to harmonise with pain…misery…grief…no matter from which part of the world the story is.

  91. Loved Little Bee…I don’t have much time to read anything but my textbooks what with currently being a college student, but I am so happy that I had the urge the other day to go to the bookstore where I passed your book on the shelf. It was the last one left, almost like it was waiting for me. Thanks for an amazing story.

  92. for the first time in my life i finished reading a novel without skipping pages,every line consist of suspense and intrigue which i cant afford to miss, i must buy a copy each for every member of my family and am a typical nigeria guy studying in uk chris your words touch my soul thank you

  93. Chris,I had loved “The other hand” so much! You had so well
    sized the african and european souls! During 20 years I lived in
    Cameroon so I was and I am still concerned about Nigeria since the
    Biafra war,the tragic hanging of the writer Ken Saro Wiva who
    struggled legally against Shell,etc.. Concerning Africa,there is a
    french association called SURVIE you could contact on
    May be it will give you other ideas for your next novel i’m waiting
    for? Best congratulations.

  94. Chris, thankyou so much for writing this book. I couldn’t put it down and finished it the same day I started it. I have been so deeply affected by it, living as I do in a country with similar detention facilities as written about in your book – I feel a deep sense of shame and I need to do more to help in some way, I just have to figure out where i would be of some small assistance. Your book has made me feel that I will never again be anything but grateful for my life and what it is, but I know that feeling wont last, being human and so with a tendency for such feelings to ‘wear off’ in time. However, what I know will last, are my changed feelings and the glimmer of understanding your book has shown me of the plight of people like Little Bee. In our safe country our minds just cannot comprehend the enormity of the atrocities inflicted upon human beings. Thankyou again.

  95. Hi Chris,
    Just wanted to say congratulations on Little Bee. It was a great read, perfect for a few days off across the summer break (Aus)
    Certainly not what I was expecting, but often (as in this case) that is the best way.
    All the best for 2011, Jacinta

  96. hello chris cleave! thank you for your e-mail. ı am reading your message now. ı feel very happy at now. and also this message is very important for me so thank you very very very much. and ı will tell this event my english teacher…:) lastly ı wish this new year comes happy and health… see you later

  97. Just finished Little Bee. One of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. Well written and should make a fabulous movie (please, no Julia Roberts!) Congratulations!

  98. Hello. Congratulations for “Little Bee”. I have just read
    only a paragraph from my students’ notes of literature lesson and
    ıt was too effective. I asked them to give me to read. I have read
    45 pages and I have felt all the things I’ve read in my heart. In
    my opinion your book is worth to read and very successful.

  99. ONE BIG QUESTION Chris :

    Are ‘The Other Hand’ and ‘Little Bee’ the same novel?
    I am reading The Other Hand now but I went to bookstore and found Little Bee and read the first pages are the same with The Other Hand.
    Are they the same novel? Heeelp…i am lost 🙂

    1. Hi Novi – yes, they are the same novel. LITTLE BEE is the US title and THE OTHER HAND is the UK title. Sorry for the confusion – and thank you for reading my book.

  100. hi chris cleave! ı’m aycan again :). I forgot writing something. why did you need writing this book? and also ı hope my english is good because ı want to speak englihs well and ı like writing very much. ı hope you read this message because this is very important for me. because this is the first time ı have ever written message a famous writer. thank you again good day!!!

  101. hello chris cleave! I’m from Turkey,Amasya. I’m a student in Merzifon Anatolian Teachers Training High School, 9B. I read your book (litte bee) last year. I liked it very much and thank you for your successfull book. In my opinion litte bee is very perfect. litte bee is amazing book and i cry when ı finished book. i wait your e-mail. thank you 🙂

    1. Thank you Aycan – for reading my book and for your very kind message. It means a lot to me. Very best wishes to you, and I wish you every success with your teacher training and with whatever comes next for you.

  102. Güzeldi, fakat ”küçük arı ” kitabı sadece ingiltere ye yönelik sanırım.neden böyle yapıldığını merak ediyorum.

  103. This book is fantastic. It evokes so many raw emotions and forces the reader to laugh, to cry and to review their own outlook on life. After rading this book I began to review how lucky I am as a human being, and I think it highlights some major current issues such as the wars, and highlights how people need to be more open-minded and selfless about what is going on in the world. Thanks , Chloe

  104. I read Little Bee a couple of months ago and I was left heartbroken. It’s such a great book, but the ending is tragic. Please keep writing, I’m a fan!

  105. Brilliant. So brilliant in fact that I have chosen this novel to write about in my English A2 coursework, arguing that it should be considered one of the Great pieces of Literature

  106. chris yazdığın bu değerli (küçük arı )kitabı bizlere ulaştırdığın için öncelikle çok teşekkür ederim kitap dediğin böyle akıcı olmalı bizi hayal düşlerimizi gözümüzün önüne sundurduğun için harikasın kitaplarının devamını bekliyorum ve başarılı olmanı çok istiyorum şimdiden çok teşekkürler

    1. Hi Mehmet – I’ve put your comment through a translation tool & I think I understand – you are very kind, thank you.

  107. Thank you for writing a book that has opened my mind and heart to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers everywhere. A gripping story- beautifully written. look forward to reading your future novels.

  108. My sister Andrea (Fernando) gave this book to me..and said ‘weh’, i must read it. Many laughs and cries unfolded as i read every characters journeys and struggles. You definitely captured what is/has happened in the Delta Niger region and hopefully humanity will change. Powerful and moving by far. Can’t wait for your next read!

  109. Hello Chris ,

    I have already finished your book which called “Little Bee” It was amazing. Actually i read in a 5 days.
    I have lost myself in the book. Thank you, for write this book.
    We are waiting for your new “bestseller” 🙂

  110. Chris
    Absolutely amazing book…within the first 30pages I’d never cried and laughed so much with any book. This book evoked such intense emotions I’d never even realised I had. Also like many who I’ve now spoken to about the book, it opened my eyes and brought home to me the plight of refugees something I’m ashamed to say I’d never paid enough attention to. It is truly a book that will stay with me forever, thank you so much for writing it…

  111. Chris,

    I have just finished reading “The Other Hand’. It would be fair to say that your book made me look at the world and myself again . I went to see the play “Shoah” many years ago. The audience including myself did not applaud at the end of the play. We left in silence. Respect, thought, knowledge, love and kindness for humanity. Your book reminded me of the this play. I was shaken out of my world. I now ask myself what can I do for people in detention centres?

  112. Chris- I’m quite a superficial young man. But I’m always non judging and open minded- I’ve been to Nigeria hundreds of times with my work.
    infact I’ve seen the world quite literally a hundred times over but after reading your book I realised I live my life in a bubble and although I’m not going to run off and become A missionary I have opened my eyes a little wider and thank you for reminding me
    Of how lucky I am. X poor little bee. In my mind she’s saved somehow because it was so cruel ..

  113. while i was reading little bee i loved udo in nigerian peace i love it thank you mister cleave because you write this book someone must waken up all people sorry for my english it isnt good enough as little bee may be worse

  114. I just finished reading Little Bee on my way to work on the train. The book brought me happiness, tears and peace. It was such a moving story and one of the best books I have ever read. I look forward to reading Incediary and The Other Hand. Thank you for opening up some of the real issues that are faced in our world. Your writting is brilliant.

    1. Thank you very much Andrea – and please be careful not to accidentally buy the same book again: The Other Hand is the UK title of Little Bee. Incendiary is another novel.

  115. Dear Chris,
    On the 6th of October 2010, I received “The Other Hand” as a birthday present . The person who gave me the book did not WARN me. While travelling on the train, I started reading it. By the time I was on page three, I had to call the person to thank her once more.
    Not just that, I missed my stop and landed in a different city!!! Thats how engrossing your book was.
    There were other “mishaps” while I was reading it but I won’t mentione them here.

    As a Nigerian (originally from the South East) currently living in Europe and working occassionally as an Interpreter in detention centers, with the police, the customs office, in courts; As a person whose physical body is covered with scars, I could feel the depth of what you were wrting. What I did not prepare myself for was the relationship between Little Bee and Sarah (the incident on the beach) My middle finger still itches!

    Your observations of the manners of articulation…the perceptions of the girls “at home”…the hilarious moments…the moments where one is engulfed by fear which is so real one forgets that one is not IN the book. “The Other Hand” is in no way an overlaced fiction. It is REALITY. Thanks a lot for this marvellous book. I will have to buy me “Incendiary” next but say, is it also as good as “The Other Hand”?


  116. You wrote a very powerful book and I am looking forward to discussing it in my book group. I am going to be leading the discussion and I would like to know why the title of the book is different in North America then in other countries? Your interview about Little Bee is at the back of the book, but is there anything else that you can add? I read that you have a sailing background and so do all of the members of my book group. My husband and I took off for 4 years on our sail boat. Are you still sailing? You are a marvelous writer and I can’t wait to read your next book.

  117. Öncelikle şunu söylemeliyim chris bu kitap bana edebiyat öğretmenimin tavsiyesiydi. tüm sınıfa tavsiye etti çok etkilendim üzüntü yönü ağır bastı. bize anlattıkların için sana minnettarım . Başarılar !

  118. Why is the title in North America different from the UK? Why can’t the title be the same? I don’t see a logical reason for the different titles. I loved the book and am reviewing it for my book club and would be very happy to receive a reply to my question so it can be shared with the book group.

    Thank you for this platform.


  119. I finished reading Little Bee yesterday afternoon! Wow! I don’t remember the last time a book has affected me this deeply. I felt so many emotions in the two days it took me to read this book that I couldn’t get to sleep last nite. I think you are a wonderfully expressive writer and I can’t wait to read more of your books!

  120. Just finished reading the book. Still can’t return from that books world. I read it surprisingly fast as once I started reding it couldn’t put it down, although English is not my native language.
    Fistly, Chris, I realized that the author of this book is a man, when I was half way through the book and I was surprised, because you described a woman’s inner world so precise and believable. Sarah’s charakter I believe is example of many women, struggling with feelings, doubts and desire.
    Secondly, Little Bee.. So believable, I can see myself passing by Little Bee and Sarah on the street. As you mentioned in the book, we all have a little sin in as. You manage to expose a reader as being a part of this society, to make to feel a little unconfortable. In Sarah’s case ‘not needed’ things or the things that we can’t really avoid growing up and living in today’s society were peeled off layer by layer untill she found herself. Real eye opener.
    Finally, emotional growth. I have to say that you built up emotions so masterful that the reader reaches the level of chatarsis together with the character in the book.
    Thank you, will read more of your books.

  121. Thank you, thank you! I just finished Little Bee and was touched in a miraculous way! I am going to buy this book for everyone I love.

  122. I just finished the Little Bee and I was enthralled with the contents. The characters were totally real and I actually felt fearful as I read it. Absolutely Great! My sister’s two daughters married men from the UK even though they were raised in Philadelphia, Pa. and Haddon Heights, New Jersey

  123. Merhaba Chris!
    Küçük Arı ( Little Bee ) romanınızı okudum. Çok etkilendim.( I’m impressed)
    Umuyorum, siz ve sizin gibi duyarlı yazarlar, dünyadaki masum insanların katledilmesine dikkat çekmeye ve tüm insanları barışa davet etmeye devam edersiniz.
    Başarılar ve başarılarınızın devamı dileğiyle..

  124. Have just finished reading The Other Hand. An amazing book – thank you…
    I will be passing it on and spreading the word!

  125. merhaba chris..
    harika bir kitaptı doğruyu söylemek gerekirse
    sizin dilinizde söyleyecek olursam (I wish you continued success) 🙂

  126. Son bir kaç yıldır okuduğum kitapların arasında en iyisiydi.Hayatıma böylesine hüznü,mutluluğu,heyecanı,tutkuyu,vazgeçebilmeyi ve sonunda barışı içerisinde harmanlayabilen bir kitap kazandırdığın için sana minnet borçluyum.
    Başarılar. ‘)

  127. Hem okudum hem yaşadım hem üzüldüm hem heyecanlandım hem ağladım hem güldüm bunların hepsini bir kitabda yaşadım

  128. burdaki yorumları okuyamıyorum, belki de benim yaptığım yorumlarda okunamayacak, ama her dilden her insanın severek okuduğu kitabın bende türkçesini okudum, çaresizlik içerisinde bir insanın umut dolu yaşamını ele alan kitap gerçekten insanı derinden hüzünlendiriyo, tek kelimeyle mükemmelin ötesinde bir kitap

  129. I finished reading The Other Hand around a month ago. I cried, laughed and was shocked to my bones. Since then, by pure coincidence, i have read two more books based on stories of refugees. The Other Hand has left me so … i cannot really describe the feeling… it is not anger, obviously sympathy, but something more. A need to make people more aware i think. It hurts me more than anything when i hear rich, comfortable, so called ‘happy’ people, complain and blame immigrants. how dare they? I know, that they are not quite the same thing, but the basis is still there. I am only fourteen years old. And i would like to thank The Other Hand for making me think so much. at the moment i am planning a letter that to send to 10 downing street. not to shout and complain, but to give Mr Cameron some reading suggestions. Make him think it through for himself rather than for the sake of the country… lets hope he reads it. If he ever does read it and replies and will get in touch with you.

  130. merhaba.. kitabınızı yeni bitirdim yaklaşık beş dakika önce gerçekten güzel çalışmaydı. tebrikler… başarılarınızın devamını dilerim.

  131. Hi Chris,
    I have read two books in my life cover to cover – Clarkson “For Crying out Loud”, was the first and yours “The Other Hand”, was my second. The reason I don’t particularly read books, is because I find it difficult to connect to any writers and emerse myself into the story and the mindset of the characters. Usually I get bored on page 3 and turn to something else. However, I can honestly say that I lived in this book. I read it on holiday and I couldn’t put it down!.
    I could visualise, sense and smell every scene, every character, every emotion.
    If this book was ever to be made in to a film… I would feel compelled to need to typecast the characters!…. Because – Really – I was there… with them – every step of the way. I could picture each scene and each character like I was actualy there.
    Congratulations on a fantastic book and on writing something in a way that I can honestly say – I have never come across before.
    Yours Sincerely,

  132. Chris I cannot find words to describe how I feel about “The Other Hand”. Suffice to say that it is a truly amazing book. I was electrified all the way through the book, read it in a week-end; at the same time that I was desperate to find out more, what happened next, I was absorbed by the beauty of the writing. And of course mixing horror with humour just makes the book even more poignant. Really incredible. Thankyou. Diana 🙂

  133. What a fantastic book, I keep thinking about little bee and about being an asylum seeker and not finding it. Such a horrible thing, and happening each day. Guess the oild company you refer to is Shell? I tried to avoid it last summer holidays, but I guess there are more oil companies with horrible track records. Thanks for shaking up the world with your book.

  134. The book was amazing! I am left with one question though… Little Bee was constantly thinking and pondering of how to kill herself for when “the men” came in any surrounding. In the end, however, when “the men” finally came she didn’t try anything.

  135. Amazing. I read this book knowing nothing about it or it’s storeyline…… and I’m so glad. A Very special book that will change the outlook and enhance the lives of many. A special treasure to stumble across.

  136. this was an amazing read for me. the story was moving and well written. I had to leave the book for a few days after starting to check I could cope with how moving the book was.
    I am a victim of abuse and have spent years using the if they come again I will kill myself. I entered each situation looking not for the emergency exit but the way to remove my self for ever and it was my way of coping – if i could not cope any more I would….
    I have not done this for several years I had just stopped doing it.. I had not realised….. reading your very well written and moving story has helped me celebrate just how far my life has moved on.
    thank you thank you thank you

  137. Hello, Chris. It’s a kick for me to often find an e-mail address for an author so that, after reading a book, I can drop a line. I don’t twitter, so this is the closest I might get to you. I have had “Little Bee” in a stack of books here at the house for a while, sharing it with reader friends but only getting to reading it this weekend (07/24-25). My friend Sandi said she found it disturbing, that she didn’t care for the ending. My curiosity tweeked, I began reading the first few pages Friday night and finished this Sunday afternoon. What a story! And, I guess like my friend Sandi, I’d have preferred knowing exactly what happened to Little Bee (Udo) were her story to have continued beyond the end of your book. What a harrowing series of experiences one so young endured and survived. I don’t believe, other than what we hear of or read about of illegal immigration from Mexico into our United States, I’ve ever read anything that focuses on immigration, illegal and otherwise, into your England. Little Bee, as you take her through her story, becomes this magnificent spokesgirl for the reasons behind one’s fleeing a country of birth in an attempt to find a welcome and a home and safety from the threats fled from. I’m looking forward to “Incendiary” and the book you’re currently working on. Continued success. You tell, at least here, a story that needs to be told. You give, in your title character, a beautiful face to a problem we just can’t turn our backs on but often find it easier to do so. Richard Green, Cape Coral, FL

  138. Hi Chris,
    here is Czech republic! I’ve just finished reading your book and it really was amazing. I was shocked many times how inhuman some scenes written there are. But well that’s life, isn’t it. Thank you and have a nice day, Zuzka

  139. hi chris … my turkey ‘s irem. I read an amazing book and a small bee. I think this book is a masterpiece. You’ve won include books for us and thank you very much .. I wish you peace I wish you continued success. Greetings to your SON BATMAN 🙂

  140. Hi, Chris! I’m Portuguese and bought your book while I was on holidays in Scotland. I loved it! Amazing story, beautifully written. Thank you!

  141. I’m Brazilian. I’ve just finished reading “Little Bee”. I was moved to tears. Perfect book! Thank you Chris Cleave.

  142. Türkiye’den selamlar.Kitabınızı yaklaşık bir ay oldu alalı fakat zaman bulup okuyamadım.Küçük Arı kitabının henüz 70.sayfasındayım …sürükleyici ve merak uyandıran bir kitap…Zaten insanların kitaplardan beklentilerinin bir kısmıda budur sıkmasın ve sürükleyici olsun kitap kendi içine alıp götürüyor sonunu merak ediyorum…Bir sonraki uçurtma avcısı denilmiş Küçük Arı için.Uçurtma Avcısı Kitabında da oldukca şaşırmıştım.Sanırım yorumlara bakılırsa bu kitap da beni son sayfalara doğru şaşırtıcak.Kitap bittiğinde size buradan tekrar yazıyor olacağım.Umarım böyle güzel kitaplar yazmaya devam edersiniz.Çünkü Benim ülkem bu kitabı çok sevdi.En çok satanlar listesinde yer alıyor kitabınız.Görüşmek dileğiyle….See you later take care…

  143. A truly incredibly moving book- and I’m only half way through. Can’t wait to get to find out how the story unfolds. Not only have you developed the character of Little Bee beautifully, you create so much empathy with Sarah. A really masterpiece. Congratulations Chris.

  144. Thanks for Little Bee, Mr. Cleave. I’m passing my copy on to my sister and recommending it to all my friends. Your use of language and imagery was stunning, and the many comparisons between the western world, as Little Bee sees it, and as we conceive it were more than clever. I’m looking forward to reading Incendiary and the work on which you’re now working, particularly if it involves cycling! Big, big fan of yours and the bike! Many thanks.


  146. Utterley fabulous. I have read both of your books now and I really can’t wait for your next book. Please make it soon.

  147. With most good books, the cliche quote is ‘I couldn’t put it down’, but with this piece of literature, I had to. Only to pick it up two seconds later because I was so scared, worried and intrigued. A perfect balance of happiness and sorrow, terror and humour, this book is one that will not be forgotten and should be read by all. Perhaps this will help change a few people’s opinions and make them realise that we are all in fact equal. We need to be more aware, and this novel is one major step to making so many truly aware of what is happening in the world.

    Thank you for a brilliant read and a journey that has changed me for the better.

  148. Hola, I’ve just finished reading this book and I can’t stop thinking of those poor people whom I see around, in Madrid, in Barcelona, everywhere in my country now, and I know many of them are facing the horror, not only the horror of what they have suffered, but the horror of nobody feeling compassion of them.
    What can we do? not all of us have the ability or talent to write books, we, the ones who just want to change the world but don’t know how, what can we do? let’s do something now, because there can be many more Nkirukas or Udos just being tortured at this moment.

  149. P.S. Pleeease write a sequel in which Little Bee and Sarah change the world!! I have to believe that they do.

  150. Dear Chris,
    Never before has a book moved me so profoundly; I ravished it in 2 days, had immediate intimacy with the characters and sobbed my heart out at the end. What a blessing and gift you have; thank you for inspiring me to do something that has always been on my heart. You, through Little Bee and Sarah have changed my world; thank you for opening the curtains and letting the light shine in. God bless you. Lucy xx

  151. Dear Chris, I can not begin to explain what effect this book has had on me. It is beautifully wrote, with empathy so unbelievable. I could not put it down, I wouldn’t normally not get through such a heart wrenching book, but you wrote it so well. You brought to life what we ALL need to stop and realise is happening in the world, in such an unbelievable way. All I can say is THANK YOU for writing such a gripping book in a way that made me smile, weep and have hope for the future. I have as a result now sponsered an African child. Keep up your good work. xxx

  152. dear chris, thank you so much for this amazing book. i read it in 2 days and cried, sobbed and felt sick by the tale you wove. your words are amazing, the way you write so thought provoking. everybody with a conscience should read this. this will stay with me forever. being a british nigerian who has never visited my homeland, i feel moved to do something about this injustice. why do people have to die for greed? you portray human spirit so well, thank you for waking me up x

  153. My brother bought the book, read it, then gave it to me.
    It was quite amazing.

    That’s all I will say.

  154. HELLO, Ican not speak english very well.but ı think your book is very good.thank you very much.I wish you success.

  155. Hi chris.I’ve just finished reading “Little Bee” .Little Bee is amazing. Truth has always surprised us.Thank you for the facts reflected

  156. hi, i read the book two days ago. the books subject is good, but not fluent. Maybe because I have read Turkish. if i learn english completely, i will read in English. In this regard, but I’m not very hopeful. while the translator translated the book because they think that trying to maintain fluency.

  157. I’ve just finished reading “Little Bee” and believe it should be on every reading list in the country. With beautiful prose and without preaching, Cleave has told us a marvelous story of a young but wise Nigerian woman caught in a plight between international greedy, murderous oil companies and harsh ethnically biased immigration policies. I’ve rarely felt how lucky I am to be living in this country; I’ve also become aware of the horrendously short life so many people’s birthplace foretells.

    Great job, Mr. Cleave.

  158. slm chris cleave kitabını nefes almadan okudum harika bir kitapdı çok hüzünlendim hem okudum hem düşündüm.dünyamı çok acımasız yoksa insanlarmı? gerçekten insanı bir kere deyil bin kere düşündürüyor böyle bir kitap yazdığın için sana teşekkür edrim.

  159. I too have found this book a terrific read. I have experienced many emotions while reading and loved the complexity of the characters which made them seem all the more real. Little Bee’s story I’m sure could be the story of so many. Am from Australia where the asylum seeker/refugees issue – in particular those arriving by boat – is a hot topic. I found myself constantly wishing stories like this were more widely read. Only today there is more discussion from our politicians regarding “boat people” but not until my fellow aussies realise that these “boat people” are as real as themselves and have experienced horrors and deprivations so alien to us in this wonderful country will the conversation and attitude change. Have read this book for my book club and am looking forward to a great discussion. Many in the group have strong views so I am hopeful that this book may engender not only more compassion but a softening of attitude. Thank you Chris Cleave.

  160. Fantatic novels, have read both incendiary and the awesome th other hand without drawing breath, i want to say where’s the next, but would potentially dislike any dilution of the outstanding quality to date…..

  161. I just finished reading little Bee and was moved to tears. You have written such a magnificent book, I only wish that there was more.
    I couldn’t help but to think what then happens to little Bee? Was she killed? Was Sarah ever able to save her? This is such an amazing story that I have to reread it again. Mr. Cleaver you trully have a gift and you have just opened the eyes of millions who were ignorant to the horrors occuring in the world as well as the astrocities immigrants constantly face, “life isn’t always fair, but humanity will prevail”.

  162. WOW! what a great book. Very moving and terrific character portrails, each very different. Well Done! Thank-you.

  163. I dog-eared this book till it took up more space in my bookshelf than the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

    Folded corners at the top of the pages for the really chewy bits and at the bottom for the read again till you can’t no more and just want to hide under an upturned boat and hope the waves will wash evil back to where it came from.
    Like LittleBee I did not choose my birthplace and do not have a country to call my own. If I had the choice to choose I would say “Weh?”

  164. I dog-eared it to bits…top and bottom of so many pages in the end it got as fat as the Encyclopedia Brittanica that sits redundant in my bookcase. I am now thinking about a niche or maybe an overturned boat to let it be stowed away in. Nobody chooses their place of birth so please have a little compassion and walk a mile in a foreign shoe.

  165. Mr. Cleave thanks for sharing us such a impressing book . I am mentioning little bee .. I will read your other book as soon as I can reach..
    I wish you everytime write facts …

  166. Mr. Cleave,
    Wonderful, gripping book. Can we have a sequel? What happens next to Little Bee? To Charlie? To Sarah? Does she keep Lawrence? Does she become harmed or imprisoned? Does she get her story out to the world? Even an epilogue would be great, stating how they all end up. Thank you, and looking forward to reading Incendiary…

  167. Hi Cris, I started to read your book, not yet.Some books to read before I love research.A wonderful book I will read some comments from , I wish you continued success

  168. Re: The Other Hand

    Bravo and thank you for writing this wonderful book Chris!
    I’m half way through and I’m rationing myself to a few pages a day to make the sheer joy of reading your words last…
    I’m at the end (exams and revision) of a Montessori 3 to 6 year old diploma course and your descriptions of Charlie are spot on and so funny! Just what the doctor ordered to lighten my revision and remind me why I’m doing the course.

    I always have at least one book on the go. Your book is up there with other recent favourites:”A Case of Exploding Mangoes” “Cloud Atlas” “A Fine Balance” “The Map Of Love” “A Thousand Splendid Suns” to name a few.

    All the best to you and your family,

  169. Hey. This is the best book i have ever read and I think it is beautifully written. You are a fantastic writter. Your writing is so emotional and i just loved every second of it. I am now reading the Incendiary which is also amazing so far. I cannot wait for another book by you i will buy it straight away. I have recommended your book to many of my friends so i am looking forward to hearing what they think of it. Thank you for writing such wonderful, perfect novels 😀

  170. hi,
    I absolutely LOVED “Little Bee” and can’t stop raving to anyone who will listen! What a perfect book.

    I am curious about the 2 different titles and wondered what your preference was and also why the 2 different titles. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if this is made into a film and cast right (especially batman) it will sweep the OSCARS!!!

    You are my new favorite author and have spoiled me for my next read now I have to go buy Incendiary!Keep writing!

  171. Hi Chris
    What wonderful turns of phrase and perfectly observed reflections on our society. Your writing is beautiful and the book was one of those rare ones I’ve been telling everyone to buy and read. It’s made me rethink my views on immigration and Africa and whilst I totally I agree with others that Little Bee was a wonderful character, I’d also like to say that Sarah’s story was powerfully told and she was absolutely believable. If some have mentioned the caricature nature of the features editor, it’s all true!
    I can’t wait for book 3!
    Thank you

  172. “the other hand”… touched me!.. it took me behind the scenes, making me take off my rosy tinted specs!

  173. i read your novel and i’ve read it after i have read half a yellow sun by a nigerin author called tchemama ngozi adtachi (i hope i spell it right) and it is amazing to see that after 40 years it is still the same in africa and things don’t change easily your novel is an amazing piece of art

  174. Kitabı bitirmek için yarattağım zamana inanamıyorum. Çünkü günlük hayatımız o kadar yoğun geçiyor ki… Böyle sürükleyici bir kitabı yazdığınız için siz Chris CLEAVE’e sonsuz teşekkürlerimi sunuyorum.

  175. Thanks Chris for writing this book. I picked it up and only put it down to sleep a few hours and finished it this morning. Thank you, thank you. It is very powerful.

  176. Important truths are told through “The Other Hand”. This was one of the most moving stories I have ever read. I loved the way the back story and the main story were intertwined. An insightful and incredible novel.
    Thank you for sharing it with us all.

  177. Hello Chris,
    I have just fınıshed on the other hand and I want to visit your web sıte. I really enjoyed it. thıs ıs the best book I have read ın thıs year. Thank you for that book.
    I want to see you in Turkey for singing day 🙂
    Best regards from Turkey..

  178. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for writing this book. I really enjoyed it. Unlike Nicholas above, who himself needs to be more subtle, I enjoyed all the characterisations. Life is full of many varied people and yes a woman would return, with her son, to the scene of such horror to compensate for her feelings of guilt. You will also be pleased to know that I had to buy the book twice as I left the first copy on a plane somewhere in America while I was half way through the book. I should not have put it down!
    Kind regards

  179. Hi,

    I want to thank you for writing ‘the other hand’. My God, I have only just stopped sobbing and that is not because I am left merely sorrowful from what I have read, but because I am moved in so many ways, deep to the core where only those who have lost, profoundly lost, can recognise; a place we each can recognise if we are brave enough to go there. You are brave enough, motivated enough and talented enough, to lead us there, and I think you can help some of us help to make a difference. Indeed, it seems from the responses on this site that you have moved many of us already. I was leant the book and I am going to lend this book until it falls apart.

    Thank you for your humanity and for your willingness to write this book,
    I’m going to miss Sarah and Little Bee.

  180. Hello Chris,
    I have just finished On The Other Hand and want to tell you how much I enjoyed reading it. Although it is a work of fiction, stories such as Little Bee’s can be told over and over again by people who have lived through terrible regimes and who have managed to “escape” only to find themselves in detention somewhere. I live in Australia and as I’m sure you are well aware, we’ve had issues with the detention of asylum seekers here-issues which caused much distress amongst those of the population who have hearts and hated the way people were detained and processed and the length of time it took before a decision was made as whether they were true refugees or not.
    I knew nothing about you before I was lent this book, and in fact I thought you were a woman until I saw your web page just now. That’s a compliment, because I believe you described the female characters so well.
    Stories like Little Bee’s need to be told so that those who are lucky enough to live in peaceful, well organised countries can gain some understanding of the plight of others far less fortunate.
    Thank you, Jane

  181. more beautiful. ı am from turkey and speak turkish. kitabınızı turkce cevirisinden okuyorm bir agbimin hediyesi. hikayeniz ve duyarlılığınız mukemmel. sizi taktir ediyorum ve zın devamını diliyorum. byy

  182. hi chris,
    this is the first time i’ve ever written a comment to an author after completing a book in my 45 yrs! I generally have little time for reading these days but on a business trip to Europe this week I’ve made good use of idle waiting time at airports and the flight to crunch through the book in record time – i finished your book at 2 a.m. this morning. I have to admit I’d never heard of you but was loaned it by a colleague who thought I would enjoy it – she was right. her reasoning for assuming I would is that I am of Nigerian descent. Having been born in the UK and lived here most of my life. I am carerer girl, a company director, living in leafy hertfordshire and in my day to day life I associate more with Sarah’s character. This means the Nigerian scenes plus Little Bee and her sister’s experiences struck me on a number of levels. I have a daughter about the same age of Little Bee….. My daughter has just started reading your book…..I can’t get the book out of my head and heart and don’t expect I will for a while. Thank you.
    regards, Chris

  183. hi chris ,
    ive finished little bee in 2 days and now I’m crying, how could you think them I really wonder that was the most perfect novel that I have read. I’m going to make my friends read it and they wonder too because I’m saying everyone that ‘the book is perfect’

    thank you for this novel
    Best regards from Türkiye (:

  184. chris, not since reading -a fine balance, by rohinton mistry have i been so moved by a book. i laughed outloud on the commuter train and held my breath and tears in the bath,allowing my children extra time before lights out, and an ability to cajole them to sleep. I read on the other hand within 24 hours and time stood still.
    thank you. Debbie

  185. I found this book in a cubby hole on a catamaran in St Vincent. It had no cover and looked a little shabby. Since I needed another book to read on my sailing trip, I thought I would give it a look. I was captivated from the very first sentence. This is such a powerful book on so many levels. It’s a story of relationships, of one society’s invisible abuses as well as the very visable and brutal abuses of another, and of the intangible quality of resilience that some people possess. The power of courage, the power of self-hatred, the power of love, the power of self-transcendence. The characters are so well-drawn I felt I would recognize them if I met them on the street. Thank you for such a heart-warming, heart-rending story.

  186. I just finished reading this last night, standing at a bus stop outside my flat, because I was six pages from the end and had a toddler and husband waiting for me at home and I knew I wasn’t going to get through those six pages if I stepped inside. So I kept reading in the cold and wet with people blowing past me like fish swimming in and out of light, and with the rain on my cheeks came the tears. This was a beautiful book. My work involves reading a lot of testimony from victims of human rights abuses. You read so much, you become immune. Every now and then, something sinks your stomach, re-connects you with humanity. Thank you for giving me that feeling again.

  187. I read The Other Hand, in around 4 hours, and felt such sadness when I finished it. I closed it on the bus on my home from work and ended up bawling my eyes out. For all it was so sad, it left me feeling uplifted.
    I have now told all my workmates about it, following the instructions of the blurb in the British edition.
    Amazing book, one of my all time favourites, and I read a lot.

  188. This is the best book I have read in years. I cried all of the way through it, sometimes due to its raw sadness and the rest of the time through its humour. I was going to lend it to be friends, but for fear of not getting it back I think I will buy them copies. This is a book that everyone should read, if they did maybe it could change things.
    I can only say that I am a little disappointed to find that ‘Little Bee’ is infact just the US title of the book, I was hoping to find it was a sequel!

  189. I am about halfway through The Other Hand & I have to say it is one of the best books I have ever read & I am 60 yrs old and read a lot. Why haven’t I heard of Chris Cleave before? I shall certainly find his other books & will look out eagerly for any future ones.

  190. Having just finished reading The Other Hand, I actually feel as if I am grieving for the empty space that it has left! What a beautiful, sad and inspiring book.

    I picked TOH up at the same time as Incendiary. I read Incendiary first and was totally gripped from the start, managing to complete it in 3 nights! I almost believed that the second book could not compare. How wrong I was. The Other Hand is outstanding and a truly thought provoking story. Little Bee is such a lovely character and I fell in love with both her innocence and wisdom and her absolute faith in the beauty of life and memories.

    Thank you so much for giving me 2 weeks of utter reading bliss! When’s the next one out?

  191. This book brought to my awareness what is going on in Nigeria (and doubtless elsewhere). People are being massacred by mercenaries/solderies, hirelings of multinationals such as oil companies because they want the land. Also, beyond our line of sight, all manner of atrocities are perpetrated on both groups and also individuals. Civilisation is only a thin veneer that has to be vigilently safeguarded.

  192. This is the best book i have read in terms of depicting the true nature of the experiences faced by refugees. As an African decent myself i can understand the way the characters were presented and the issues they face as a result of being an asylum seeker. Perhaps for the few that do not agree with the author it may be because of their lack of courage to state the obvious and hence blaming the person that has done the job for them is just cowardly. I truly appreciate the work of the author and hope to read more of your books.

    Its been a pleasure!


  193. I was interested by your book ‘The Other Hand’. It reminded me strongly of ‘I am David’ by Anne Holm, a children’s book about a boy fleeing from a concentration camp in some unidentified eastern bloc country. The voices of Little Bee and David are very similar in terms of their naive and indomitable honesty. However, I read your book with mixed feelings. It was worthy to write a novel about such a politically unacceptable state of affairs, in the tradition of Dickens; such social injustice is surely worth exposing. Nevertheless, I was dogged by misgivings which, paradoxically, only served to strengthen my desire to finish the book. I found some of the characterisations bordered on caricature, notably the girls with whom Little Bee found herself incarcerated. The Batman child with his repetitive grammatical errors was overdone. The usurping editor of the woman’s magazine was only a step away from something from ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. Perhaps they were intended as light relief amongst the pervading tragedy in the tradition of the Porter in ‘Macbeth’. These characters seem to have been written in some form of shorthand, their strengths and weaknesses flagged up in rather obvious and unsubtle ways. I was also disappointed by the plot twists based on coincidence and improbable events such as Little Bee hanging around in the journalist’s garden (having found her way on foot from Essex) only to be there in time to have a conversation with him as he hanged himself. I really didn’t like the ending with its somewhat heavy-handed signal about ‘hope for the future’. Would a widowed mother really have been stupid enough to go back to Africa where the tragedy began with her son, jeopardising his life and her own in order to salve her conscience? Thanks for the opportunity to respond. You have certainly written a page-turner with a strong message that was worth conveying, for which much thanks. I suppose I just think it would have been a better book if it had been a bit more understated and subtle.

  194. Hi Chris,

    I just finished reading Incendiary. It was very capturing. I am not English but lived in London for 4 years. I felt like I was back in London while I was reading the book.It is brilliant how you described invisible cast sytem in UK. Congratulations.

  195. It’s two a.m, I’ve just finished reading the story of ‘Little bee’ and I’m now writing you a ‘thank-you’ post and putting my feelings(that you brought) on my diary. I’m absolutely delighted to have read one another greatest story, and you have now a great fan in SOUTH KOREA. Thank you!

  196. I recently read The Other Hand, and I must say, I haven’t been so affected by a novel in a very long time. It is definitely one of the best books I have read, and I’m glad I stumbled upon it when I did. Honestly, I usually avoid reading novels that deal with such heart-wrenching and real situations (war, refugees, , somehow the writing always seems forced, the tragedy extravagant, as if it’s written only to make the reader feel sad, and usually I feel like I got nothing from those novels except the temporary feeling of distress over the world’s unfairness. This time, instead, I was captivated, I was moved, from beginning to end, nothing felt off or forced with the storytelling, and it really made me think, it really touched me. Thank you.
    There’s also something I wanted to ask you. I live in Greece and although I wanted to share this book with my friends, most of them are not willing (or able) to read in English. Is there a translated version coming out?

  197. Wow! I could ill-afford the time but simply could not put this book down. Totally absorbing, frightening, uplifting & a reminder to us all to question everything – particularly government for they supposedly act on our behalf. This book is a keeper & will not be part of a garage sale any time soon.

    I am now looking forward to reading Incendiary.

  198. Dear Chris
    I just finished reading “The Other Hand”. It is really a splendid work and I truly greet you for shedding the light on the issue of refugees and their plight not only in the UK, but elsewhere too.
    I had an experience working with refugees and I know how hard for them to think, just think, of getting back again to that place they fled from. I fully understand Little Bee’s constant fear of “The men” whom might come one day again and I heard the same from many female refugees. I like, though, the optimism carried and showed by Little Bee despite her previous experience.
    You have now a great fan and looking forward reading your new book (if any) and meeting you in future events. Thanks!

  199. Hello Chris, I am currently writing my own first book and have jsut finished reading ‘The Other Hand’ – it’s a book that will be ‘with me’ just like ‘Chariots of the Gods’ remained with me, as did ‘The Kontiki Expidition’. I am a different person now to that which I was before I read your book. It was an incredibly powerful insight into the experiences, thoughts and feelings of those in that position – the rock and the hard place. Thanks you for wiritng it. Since then, I have jsut begun to read, ‘Incendiary’ – and it’s gripped me as little Bee’s story did. I can only aspire to write half as well. Thank you.

  200. I have just finished reading The Other Hand and I would like to thankyou for the blessing of this story. I felt that a part of me had gone when i completed the book this afternoon; such a bittersweet joy, one minute comedy another tragedy. A completely engrsooing story.

  201. I am studying English language for A level and I wanted to broaden my reading, I luckily stumbled across this book. I love it. I love the way that this book takes you all over the world into different people’s lives. It is brilliantly well written. I can’t express the enjoyment that this book gave me! I have recommended this book to my teachers, and I am presently writing a review on it. well done and thanks again!

  202. Chris,
    I picked up your book off the shelf of the school library simply because it had a ‘different’ kind of cover. Quirky, clearly symbolic though I didn’t understand the smbolism, and a little bit intriguing (I’m talking of the orange one with the tree).
    I opened the first page without hope or agenda and thus it was only several hours later, when I looked at the clock and realised I was mean to be waking up for school in a few hours time, that I realised I’d stumbled upon something that deeply touched me.
    The very human suffering, the disarming, debilitating insights into our culture- you truly have created an absolute masterpiece of literature and since finishing your book (some 3 months ago now) whenever I look at my hand, I think about using the other one. I think that’s a sign you’ve truly succeeded. Well done. And Thankyou.

  203. I have just finished reading ‘The Other Hand and can honestly say it is one of the best books I have ever read. I found it informative, and the storyline absolutely gripping. I can only thank you for attempting to educate further on an issue that is so blindingly unrecgnised in this country. Please keep writing!

    Sara Williams

  204. I have just this second finished the other hand and I thought it was absolutely fantastic! I am very picky about books so you are lucky that I love it. Normally with books that have one chapter as one person and the next with another, this one works!! Thank you for good read I loved it!!!!!!!


  205. Thank you for that amazing book. It really moved me. You must be a wonderful and insightful being, I wish the world had more people like you in it. Shine your’e light!
    love, love love.

  206. I have just finished reading your book. It changes ones view of another subject – immigration. Behind every immigrant is a story, some more powerful than Little Bee’s. Unfortunately it reinforceds ones ignorance of so many plights in the world. The media create a picture for us, which invariably is wrong. When I see a refugee I will always think of Little Bee. Most of us in the UK dont know what it is like to live in fear. We are all truly ignorant.

  207. Thankyou for proving to me that I should read more. I am rarely motivated to finish a book but I was unable to forget this one. Little Bee will stay with me. Very moving.

  208. I haven’t actually finished reading the book yet – I’ve got abo0ut 20 pages to go. Its a beautiful book – funny and unbearably sad. It also answers a question that I’ve been struggling to answer for the last 10 years.
    What would make someone leave their country to go into the unknown? what kind of fear is so powerful that someone could put themselves through that?

  209. Hi Chris,
    My friends read your book and gave me the copy to read. It was a fantastic book which made me both laugh and cry. The ending was horrible although I expect we have all gotten used to Disney happy endings. It opens your mind to the terrors that these individuals face when they have already run from terrors to get here.
    Possibly if we did not bury our heads or turn our backs a real difference to many lives would be made.
    Thanks Chris

  210. Thanks Chris for such a wonderful book, I’m going to pass it on to all my friends, can’t wait for your next one!

  211. I have just finished the book having neglected my son for the last 2 days because I simply could not put it down. What a truely amazing read, heart-breaking and life affirming at the same time. Just one of those books you NEED all your friends to read immediately because you want to share the incredible story with them. It’s a long time since I discovered a new author and I am dragging my own little batman to the shops to buy anything else Chris has written.

  212. I am not a big reader but this year have got through 4 or 5 books, a bit of a late starter at 51, usually prefering autobiographies. I came across The Other Hand by chance and was intrigued by the back page not giving away any of the story. It was fantastic. A bit strange though when the Police called to her work to say her husband had died as I too had been visited in work by the Police to say my husband had died suddenly when out walking last February, and the fact that we had visited Richmond Park with our daughter just last year. As mentioned in some of the other reviews I also thought that Chris must have been a women as it was so real from a women’s point of view. I am now looking forward to Incendiary and have passed The Other Hand to a friend who is also crying and laughing and enjoying every chapter as much as I did. Thank you.

  213. *Thank you* for writing the Other Hand. Most of the book’s subject was not new information for me, but thank you for writing it the way you did and making a heavy subject more personal and more accessible (and therefore, it almost feels wrong to say it, making the book more entertaining than if it were more documentary-style). Little Bee, Sarah and Batman felt very real as did their story and I will definitely recommend this book to friends and family.

    Something I didn’t know before I read this book, was that many of the detention centers in the UK are privately run. Being Dutch myself, I was ashamed to read (in the book and through the links on this website) that a Dutch company runs several facilities in the UK. It feels wrong on so many levels that it is possible for private companies to make a profit out of running a detention facility. With our history of huge financial gains during the slave trade, it seems even more wrong for a Dutch company to now be making profits from detaining refugees. I’m sure it’s all perfectly within the laws and they’re complying by all the necessary regulations and standards, but it really is just wrong that there is a profit to be made from -basically- imprisoning refugees.

  214. Hi Chris – Just finished the book as selected for our book group reading (Chatty Chicks do Books!) and felt compelled to search your site and many others for more info on this subject. I paricularly want to let you know however, that my OU tutor has recommended the book too – my current course in on Communication (albeit it in Health and Social Care) and my tutor thought your book especially relevant for us saying it is ‘a lovely study of the literal use of words which when used have an all together different meaning.’ Can’t wait for your next work …. Thank you.

  215. I walked into a bookstore in Dublin yesterday to purchase “one” for the weekend!. Whilst I was there I remembered that I had a book, “The Other Hand” on my shelf at home – I decided there and then to purchase only a birthday card.

    When I approached the counter the guy behind the till showed me 2 books that were on special offer – one was Incendiary. How coincidental I thought – it was also by Chris Cleave. I told till guy that I was actually on my way home to read TOH and that if I liked it, I would certainly pop back and pick up Incendiary.

    He paused knowingly however, gave me a moment and I handed him Incendiary to scan.

    I started The Other Hand last nite. Gripped….so glad I don’t have to waste any time going back to the bookstore to pick up Incendiary!

    Thanks a mill Chris

  216. Dear Chris
    Thank you so much for this book, I dont read much and after getting bored in the sun on a recent holiday, stopped off in the hotel book swap shop, I am ashamed to say that i have more fingers on my hands than the number of books I have read. Your book has changed that for me, I could not put it down, and also thought that I could never be that engrossed in a book.

    Your book made me laugh and cry, I too fell in love with Little Bee.

    Thank you Chris

  217. I, too, am disappointed that I have finished this amazing book! I had it finished within a week when a book usually takes me a good month or two!

    Only one negative thing stuck out for me though and that was the ‘Queen of England’ references – I know these were made by Little Bee but through her reading and studies would even she not have learned that the Queen is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? A mouthful I know…

  218. Hi Chris,
    I started to read the other hand on Tuesday night, and I have just turned the final page (Friday).

    I read a lot, yet this is the first time that I have missed lunches, so that I could squeeze in an extra hour reading.

    I am disappointed however, that I have finished …. what am I to do now?



  219. Hi Chris,
    I have just finished ‘the other hand’ and loved it. Thank you. I felt rather foolish yesterday when I Googled you and realised that I occasionally read your column in The Guardian but failed to make the connection! Is the ending of the novel meant to be ambiguous? Is the sound of the sea simply drowned out by Little Bee’s laughter, of by something more sinister?

    Kind regards,

  220. I don’t get round to reading much… bought this book at the airport and couldn’t put it down throughtout my holiday!! Daughter wasn’t too impressed with me as I’d forgotten she was there half the time!

    I loved reading this book… brought many emotions out of me whilst reading it! I didn’t quite understand what happened at the end though… are we to assume Little Bee was arrested and the worst may have happened? Sorry to ask, but it’s like I said… I don’t read much so my imagination probably isn’t that good 🙁

    Thank you Chris for an amazing book!

  221. I have just read this for my book club. I thought your description of all the characters was so real and felt as if I could touch them. I loved Batman as I have a little boy who is 6 who loves dressing up.
    Quite shocked with the ending…

  222. I’ve just broken up for my holidays and wanted something to read-I bought this book, and am so glad that I did. It is extremely thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down.
    I’m definately going to recommend this book to my friends, family and may even go out and buy ‘Incendiary’ to read next! Thank you for a beautiful book.

  223. Chris,

    Just read Little Bee – what a wonderful story. My granddaughter’s father is Nigerian and came to Canada at the age of 16. He told me some stories of his village and the life there before he chose to leave my granddaughter’s life at the age of 2. Now she is eleven and I can’t wait until she can read your book to get some insight to her heritage other than what she finds in dry numbers of facts and figures. Thank you for bringing Udo’s story to life.

  224. I’ve never written to the writer of a book I’ve loved before. I feel that, as well as being a fantastic yarn, this book has some deep, deep things to say about the way our world is shaping up and which are seldom said. Most interestingly, I feel it’s done without using a cudgel or providing “subtitles for the hard of understanding” as I often accuse films and books of doing. Never does it try, as many books do, to be unnecessarily clever in the way its story is unfolded. And yet it impressed me thoroughly in the steady pace and manner at which it unwrapped itself (without resorting to gimmick). Your writing absolutely floored me in places and I found it utterly, powerfully convincing from both protagonists’ points of view. I would add that I have personally lost a partner to suicide under half-similar circumstances and feel this life-shattering circumstance was dealt with here in very honest and respectful terms. Thank you for bringing back my love of books.

  225. Chris
    almost finished The Other hand-I don’t need to finish it to know its a great read as someone who has worked with kids and families in our appallingly former criminal immigration detention centres during the Howard era, I have met similar young people like Bee-unaccompanied minors who have experienced trauma beyond imagination-their resilience is remarkable-not all survive psychologically and the toxic effects of mandatory detention bring about a kind of malignant despair. Governments are good at de-humanising and objectifying outsiders-we had the myth of “‘queue jumpers” here. What is heartening is that when the ordinary person hears the real stories or meets someone like Bee they will never be the same. Check out a book called ” Äcting from the Heart” publisher is Finch 2007 an anthology of stories written by advocates of asylum seekers in Oz and edited by two colleagues of mine. The book details the effects on the advocates of their relationships with detainees and their hard fought battles with government officials to process claims for asylum seekers,get around “yes minister red tape” and call to account the gross mishandling and negligence of the private companies in ädminstering” detention services. May this history not be forgotten -thanks for writing this

  226. I’ve spent the morning unable to put down the last 170 pages of this amazing, compelling story. It’s comforting to read that others from my tribe have been deeply moved by it too…

    There are so many provocative issues interwoven in the story, but for me, a common theme underlying them is ignorance. It’s about what happens to individuals, societies, governments and whole cultures when we fail to pay atttention – or worse, purposely “turn a blind eye” – to things that aren’t working or aren’t right and need fixing, whether that be the effects of rampant consumerism and corporate greed, our own relationships or the seemingly inconsequential daily choices we make. Perhaps its about the sickness (“the baddies inside” as Little Bee tells Batman) from ignoring the baddies out there, and the noble triumph of no longer doing so (when Sarah takes Little Bee’s plight on). And yet in the tragedy of the story, there is still goodness in life and hope for the future. Oh… this is late night red wine thinking in the middle of the day… just read it!!

    Did you set out to raise awareness of the plight of refugees in this wonderful story?

  227. I came across this book purely by accident and it is honestly, the most moving story I have ever read. A roller-coaster of emotions ,that had me laughing out loud and crying within pages of each other. This story made me want to do something….anything to help those in similar situations. Congratulations to Chris Cleave….surely someone should take this wonderful story and make it into a film-take it to the masses..maybe there would then be more sympathy for those seeking asylum?

  228. I just wanted to write and tell you how much I am appreciating The Other Hand.

    I am dismayed at the fact I have to work today, as I could so easily be reading it instead. I have to say, with complete conviction, that The Other Hand is by far the most engrossing novel I have ever read. And I have read a lot of novels. It is brilliantly shocking in such an understated way. The prose flows effortlessly into my mind and fills me to the core. I simply can not put it down (unless I have to). Little bee’s voice is one of astounding maturity for her age, and she is wiser than us. She is lovable and inspirational at the same time. I can not wait to find out how this incredibly intertwined plot of back flashes filling in the current situation will unfold in the end. As a writer myself, I have a huge amount of respect for the way you have written The Other Hand. It is complex but easy to read and understand, eloquent, and absorbing. And despite the controversial subject, it is tender and smooth.

    I love it.

    Thank you.

  229. I loved this book. I read a lot and can honestly say that this book is life-changing and leaves you thinking for a long time.

    One tiny aspect of the book that resonated with me strongly was Little Bee feeling that black people in Africa are unable to govern their countries well because their futures have been stolen from them already. As a white African I feel so guilty about the privileged life I’ve had whilst so many have so little. And the really scary thing is that as young person I didn’t question anything.

    Anyway – read this book, everyone! It tells a beautiful story in a very cruel world in the voices of two incredible characters.

    And thank you for responding to your readers – I love your encouragement for writers.

  230. The Other Hand was chosen for a book group I belong to and I brought it to read on holiday. In a way I wish I hadn’t because it has affected me deeply. It has left me feeling I want to do something to make a difference but not knowing what or how. Like an exhibition I saw in Paris, it has made me look at the people around me with new eyes, trying hard not to stereotype or make judgements. I feel that it is a book that has expanded my experience, made me think and altered some preconceptions. Thank you.

  231. Hi thanks for writing the book , enjoyed is the wrong word , the world will not be quite the same place for me now.

  232. Hi, I’m a junior high school student who fell in love with Little Bee. I’m very interested in reading and writing. Do you have any useful insight for young writers like myself? =)

    1. Hi Hilda – this is so good to hear. Well, as one writer to another, I do have some advice since you ask. I think writing is like any other skill: you are born with some natural ability, and you increase that ability through dedicated training. And writing is one of those things – like skiing or swimming – that gets more fun the better you get at it. Therefore, if you love writing, my advice would be to write something nearly every day. It doesn’t have to be long. It just has to be interesting, or quirky, or make you smile, or think differently. Get up early, before everyone else does, when the house is quiet and you have half an hour all to yourself. Try writing in other people’s voices. Try writing from unusual points of view. Try to write something to make your friends laugh. If you feel able, it’s a good idea to show your writing to your friends and family. They will be your best teachers, because from their reaction you will know when you are getting it right or wrong. Another good way to learn is to read, and to read widely. Don’t only read books you like. Read books you don’t like, and try to pinpoint why you don’t like them. If you don’t like the ending of a particular story, write your own ending. Think about how other writers use techniques like suspense, and humor, and mystery. Look also at the style in which they write. Then think about how their techniques and their styles fit with the stories they choose to tell. This is how you learn the craft. But above all, listen to your own mind, and write the way you want to at any given moment. There is no “best” way to write. The stuff some people say about “finding your voice” is silly too, because your “voice” will change throughout your life, especially if you are a curious person who is open to the world. What readers enjoy – and what writers love about writing – are those moments when all the rules get thrown out of the window and something extraordinary appears on the page. Work hard, enjoy yourself, and never, ever give up. Good luck!

  233. I fell in love with Little Bee from the pound coin beginning – she is refreshingly funny and speaks how she percieves which with age we forget to how to do.
    I disagree with ‘anonymous’ who has accused the author of being a ‘racist’ – if anything this book has highlighted an issue that is brushed under the carpet and has personally made me more aware of refugees and their ‘story’.
    I chose this book for my book club and am quite confident that it will be a favourite – I mean who could not succomb to Little Bee and Batman!!!

    Thank-you for a great read. Paula

  234. This book was recommended to me as I work with refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom have spent time in detention centres in the UK.

    I have to say I am wholheartedly dissapointed with this novel, it places too much if it’s weight in sweeping generalisations and owes it’s empathy from a middle class white perspective – ie that which tries to understand yet fails misarably from a complete lack of real understanding, you can’t gain insight just from sociological books .
    The books dipiction of Yevette confirms to the perpetuation of racist stereotyping of Jamaican women, confirmed on page 110 when it is said that “I do not think that Yevette is a human being. I think she is another species with a louder mouth”. Could you get any more racist one wonders, but alas, yes he does – the “patios” spoken by Yevette in the book is clearly not Jamaican, but is schooled directly from the mouth of Ali G. Jamaicans do not say “where I is at”, that is an Ali G-ism, Jamaicans do not say “pipple”, this sounds more Afrikaans than West Indian, and Jamaicans certainly do not say “zeen”, it’s “seen” with an S.
    Chris Cleave has tried to make money out of the misery of peoples lives and has spent so little time with real pipple that he knows nothing of the pipple he talks about.

    the only believable aspect to the book is when he talks from the perspective of a middle class white woman – the life he is used to. He obviously has never had much contact with Jamaicans and should have kept his unitelligent and malformed ideas about Jamaican women to himself and not perpetuated an outdated myth.

    1. Hello Anonymous – thanks for your comment. I don’t agree with your assessment of me as “racist”. Nor do I agree with you that any insight I may have comes from “sociological books”. If we’re honest, you don’t know me or the life I live, so forgive me if I don’t take your comments too much to heart. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the book, and if you’ll supply me with your details at chriscleave @ I will be pleased to refund you the purchase price. The last thing I want is to “make money out of the misery of people’s lives”. Best wishes, Chris.

  235. I think this has got to be the best book I’ve read. So moving and wonderful. Half way through I had to stop reading for fear that I’d finish it and it would be over! Since then I’ve read it three more times and I only bought it about two weeks ago. I’ve turned into one of those losers! I love how there is no pretention involved what so ever and despite that Sarah and Little Bee have gone through so much, they still don’t feel sorry for themselves. I so want to turn this book into a play!! hands up Chris!

  236. A fantastic book, which I also want to share with friends from here, however in a Dutch or German …. Has it been translated already in these languages ?

    1. Anton, thank you for your kind comment – I’m delighted to say that the book will be published in Dutch this summer (2009) by the excellent publisher Prometheus ( I still don’t have a publisher in the German language, but I never stop hoping! Best wishes, Chris.

  237. Wow, what an amazing book. I felt like I knew Little Bee from the very start! I laughed lots (and cried too). Definitely one of the best books I have ever read.

  238. I don’t read books too often, and when travelling to London on a horrible coach journey i needed to buy a book to pass the time. I was glued to the book, it seems to realistic! and it is a massive roller coaster journey! No book has ever effected me the way this book did! The day i finished the last chapter i cried for a good ten minutes haha!


  239. Purchased ‘The Other Hand’ about a month ago and tried to get into reading it. Left it on the bedside table and thought it had been a waste of money “Chapter 1 is very difficult to grasp and difficult to understand as you are not sure where the story is going ! How wrong could I be, I picked it up again on friday (being off sick from work) and have just finished it (Sunday 10am). What an excellent book, even though I was sure Chris Cleve was a woman, eye opening and saddened at our lack of knowledge on the subject. Wish I had read it sooner!!!

  240. Chris

    I came across ‘The Other Hand’ being hyped heavily with a personal handwritten note in Borders. Picked it up, bought it, read it in 24 hours, irritating my wife by chuckling and snuffling. Searched for information on Chris Cleave (surely a woman! so much sensitivity) bought a copy for my brother, lent my copy to first one friend, then another, recommended it to anyone who’d listen.
    What a fabulous book; how can anyone empathasise so closely and write so vividly about such disparate characters. A truly educational and eye-opening book, full of laughter and tears. thank you, I look forward to the next one and have ordered Incendiary. Thanks too for the generosity of this website.

  241. Chris,
    I have just finished reading The Other Hand and found it deeply disturbing. Your charactisations of women refugees let out of the detention centre and their attempts to steer a way through our alien british culture were so vibrant and real – the most acute piece of writing getting right under their skin. I found the writing just brilliant from beginning to end and am still blown away later in the day.
    I feel I should do something about this issue but feel as powerless as Little Bee and Sarah in the face of much larger powerful forces. The best book I’ve read for years.

  242. Roberta – many thanks for this. I don’t know if Loraine Bayley is Australian. I know she was (and likely still is) involved in the campaign to end arbitrary detention at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre. She is named in the transcript of a Bedfordshire County Council report into the February 2002 fire at Yarl’s Wood. She makes some very interesting points in the document. I have an electronic copy that I can forward to you if you can email me with your email address. My email is listed on this site. All best, Chris

  243. I have just put down TOH on a hot lethargic kind of day in Sydney, Australia.
    What a joy! It has also been bruising in its honesty Mr Cleave. I hope there are brave, safe Little Bees everywhere and Sarahs with fire in their bellies to show us the beauty in emapthy and the power of kindness.
    Roberta Muir
    PS – the Loraine Bayley you mention in your notes is she by any chance an Australian? Or is she known only as a reference note in the transcript attribution? Not important just a 6 degrees of seperation thing.

  244. I took a preview copy of ‘The Other Hand’ to read in my local park on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Had I been forewarned of the profoundly emotional effect the book would have on me, I probably would have opted for a less public spot, for your writing left me in tears on a park bench in one of the grimier parts of South London.

    ‘The Other Hand’ is a wonderful achievement, I hope it is a raving success and that readers’ eyes are opened to the abysmal treatment of refugees in the UK.

  245. I recently finished reading a proof copy of The Other Hand and am still reeling in the deep sense of loss and grief that it has left me with. I found it to be an incredibly compelling read with some delightful and funny passages but also deeply disturbing. I would like to thank Chris for writing this great book. I love the two voices that are used and was pleasantly surprised by how well Chris was able to portray both a young refugee and a new mother who, like myself, is balancing career/motherhood/love. I would also like to thank Chris for bringing into the public eye the inhumane mandatory detention of refugees.


    I have just finished an advance copy of The Other Hand and it has changed my life. This novel is due for release in September by Sceptre. It tells a heartbreaking tale with such a light tone that my reality changed the moment I started reading it. For me, the book is about how we live and what we convince ourselves is acceptable. I struggled to read this book in that it was so well written I couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t want to know the story either. Ignorance may be bliss for some, but it’s certainly not evolving humanity.

  247. I have just finished an advance copy of “The Other Hand”. There are two specific sections that made me cry and I’m not going to tell you about either of them. There are several stanzas that made me laugh out loud and feel happy. I’m not telling you about those either. This is a wonderfully constructed book that is peopled by many emotions that will stay with the reader long after it’s finished. Litle Bee can teach us so much. I intend to read it again.

  248. I also have recently finished an advanced copy and by fair this is the best book i have read this year! The author writes incredibly well as both a woman and a young girl and it is so frightening how he captures the thoughts and fears that can go through our heads (how Little Bee copes with living after leaving Nigeria). The subject was written with compassion and reality, making me utterly believe everything that was written. This is a brilliant powerful, sad and funny tale that deserves to touch many many many lives like it has touched mine.

    Well done on such an amazingly beautiful book!!

  249. I recently finished reading an advanced copy of The Other Hand and my goodness, what an achievement. Congratulations. I am blown away by how you managed to capture the voice of a 16 year old Nigerian refugee so perfectly, so sensitively, so precisely. I’m haunted by the batman scene – it broke my heart. But I had moments of laughing out loud too. With every best wish for the books success.

    Shereadsisall, South Africa

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