The Other HandAuthor: Chris Cleave
Stock: In stock at the publisher and usually ships by us in 7 - 10 days. Allow a few extra days for delivery
Featured in the September, 2009 magazine
(A good read)
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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 afterwards 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.
...engrossing and original...
Review by: Sarah Minns
LITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave
Also published as THE OTHER HAND.
Imagine if you will, the tranquility of a luxury beach side resort. Now think about it in Nigeria. Now think about it with an unlikely and violent clash between two young Nigerian sisters, a 30-something white professional couple from London, and the local police. You already know this will not be a pretty picture.
From the very first sentence - 'Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.' - we are drawn into the life of Little Bee, one of the two Nigerian sisters on the beach that fateful day. The story begins two years after the beach encounter, with Little Bee being released from an immigration detention center in England. She has been detained there since her arrival in the UK as an illegal refugee. She sets out to find the only people she knows in England, being the husband and wife she met on the beach that day. From this most curious beginning, the lives of both Little Bee, and the couple,Sarah and Andrew, gradually unfold, with Little Bee eventually finding them. The two sets of lives, of course, could not be more different. Little Bee has grown up in a village in the forests of Nigeria, amidst the encroachment of Western corporate interests and the destruction that results. Sarah and Andrew live and work very comfortably in London, and really have no idea at all as to what goes on inside countries like Nigeria or what happens to the people there.
The story is told, in alternating chapters, by Little Bee, and Sarah. Little Bee is determined that she will be granted residency in the UK while she is in the detention center and studies the English language - the Queen's English that is - with a fierce passion. Being the only English she knows, this is the language she uses to tell her story. It is very measured and deliberate, as is the English of those for whom it is not a first language. It is also very visual, which makes for compelling reading. I imagine if the story were to be narrated by a native Nigerian, it would be like listening to music. Sarah's story is narrated in a pretty standard sort of fashion, but with the added delight of the language and awesome imagination of her four year old son, Charlie. This child is an absolute treasure; apparently the author modelled him based on observations of his own four year old son. Very cleverly, a lot of the story is viewed through his eyes.
Little Bee finds delight and happiness and positivity in vitually everything in England, she is convinced everything will work out ok for her. Sarah, on the other hand, is struggling with her marriage, motherhood, her work as a journalist/editor and life in general. The contrast could not be more great. But we get to see the beauty of Little Bee's new world, and the gradual changes that take place in Sarah as she comes to terms with Little Bee being part of her life.
This is a harrowing story, and has haunted me since finishing it two weeks ago. The West, and the huge multinationals who want to control the natural resources of our world, have a lot to answer for in their decimation of the Third World, its traditional societies and peoples. We don't have a lot of refugees here in New Zealand, being a low population country, but I will look at the plight and lives of refugees who have the good fortune to make it here with quite different eyes now.
AwardsAward: Shortlisted, Costa Book Awards (formerly The Whitbread Awards) Year: 2008 Prize: Novel
Category:Fiction General Fiction