By Chris Cleave
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781416589631, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
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WE DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS BOOK.
It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.
Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:
It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.
The story starts there, but the book doesn't.
And it's what happens afterward that is most important.
Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
Chris Cleave is the author of Incendiary and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Visit him at ChrisCleave.com or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.
Correspondent Susan Stamberg gathers recommendations for the season's best books from booksellers Rona Brinlee, Daniel Goldin and Lucia Silva. Their selections include comics about philosophy, novels about building families, and a box set that dives into the process of writing. More at NPR.org
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- "Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive" (p. 9). For Little Bee and other asylum seekers, the story of their life thus far is often all they have. What happens to the characters that carry their stories with them, both physically and mentally? What happens when we try to forget our past? How much control over their own stories do the characters in the book seem to have?
"Book clubs in search of the next Kite Runner need look no further than this astonishing, flawless novel... Cleave (Incendiary) effortlessly moves between alternating viewpoints with lucid, poignant prose and the occasional lighter note. A tension-filled dramatic ending and plenty of moral dilemmas add up to a satisfying, emotional read." -- Library Journal
"Little Bee will blow you away.... In restrained, diamond-hard prose, Cleave alternates between these two characters' points of view as he pulls the threads of their dark -- but often funny -- story tight. What unfolds between them... is both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heart-rending." -- Washington Post
"Utterly enthralling page-turner... Novelist Cleave does a brilliant job of making both characters not only believable but memorable.... These compelling voices grip the reader's heart and do not let go even after the book's hyper-tense final page. Little Bee is a harrowing and heartening marvel of a novel." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Every now and then, you come across a character in a book whose personality is so salient and whose story carries such devastating emotional force it's as if she becomes a fixed part of your consciousness. So it is with the charmingly named title character in Chris Cleave's brilliant and unforgettable Little Bee..." -- The Oregonian
"London journalist Cleave's memories of a job feeding asylum-seekers in a U.K. detention center inform this stunning work.... With wry humor, Cleave unravels Bee's tangled history with Sarah, an Englishwoman with deep revelations of her own..." -- People (Four Stars and a People Pick)
"...a psychologically charged story of grief, globalization and an unlikely friendship...Cleave's narrative pulses with portentous, nearly spectral energy..." -- Kirkus
"The voice that speaks from the first page of Chris Cleave's Little Bee is one you might never have heard -- the voice of a smart, wary, heartsick immigrant scarred by the terrors of her past.... Read this urgent and wryly funny novel for its insights into simple humanity, the force that can disarm fear." -- O Magazine
"...Little Bee is a loud shout of talent." -- Chicago Sun-Times
"Cleave is a nerves-of-steel storyteller of stealthy power, and this is a novel as resplendent and menacing as life itself." -- Booklist (starred review)
"The charge, then: buy this book. Resist opening it until you are ready to start reading, for once you begin you'll find yourself unable to stop. ... Prepare yourself for Cleave's poignancy, his control, and the pathos he so effortlessly evinces. Expect astonishment, for this is a work inspiring in depth and style; a work that alters perceptions." -- Bookslut