Title: The Beekeeper of Aleppo
Author: Christy Lefteri
First Published: 2nd May 2019
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.
In the midst of war, he found love.
In the midst of darkness, he found courage.
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
What will you find from his story?
This book is absolutely stunning.
I put off reading this book for a while because I had heard so many amazing things and it’s exactly the sort of book that I adore and I was just so worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. It really did, and then some!
The journey of Nuri and his wife, Afra, from Syria is fraught with danger and heartbreak. I loved the way the author weaved together the narrative of their life in Aleppo, their journey and their new life as asylum seekers in the UK. At no point was this narrative confusing or contrived; rather it severed to remind us of the impact that their journey will forever more have on their lives.
I felt that the writing throughout was sublime. The characters, particularly Nuri, were nuanced. You were so desperate for them to have a happy ending; nonetheless, Nuri did commit an awful act during his journey, which I won’t spoil. I think it was really important that the author pointed out the psychological impact that fleeing your country has. Afra is blind because of the trauma of seeing her young son killed. Nuri is suffering from PTSD. I was desperate to reach out to this characters and hold them tight.
Given the subject content, you would expect this sort of book to be emotional, but I felt it went even further than that – it touched me to my core. Although Nuri is our protagonist, we do meet several other refugees along the way, all with their own story to tell. This book humbled me. It reminded me of how lucky I am to live in a peaceful country. How lucky I am to have a home. How lucky I am not to fear one of my loved ones will be killed by a bomb at any moment. I know that the narrative around immigration is contentious, yet I fail to see how one cannot read a story like this and not be moved. It has reminded me that we need to extend the hand of friendship.
I’m not sure that I can fault this book. It was moving, beautifully written and often understated while saying so much. If you enjoy literary fiction and the works of authors such as Khaled Hosseini, I highly recommend The Beekeeper of Aleppo. I can’t wait to read more of what Lefteri has to offer.