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.

  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 believ