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The Beekeeper of Aleppo: A Novel
by Christy Lefteri

Published: 2019-08-27
Hardcover : 336 pages
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This unforgettable novel puts human faces on the Syrian war with the immigrant story of a beekeeper, his wife, and the triumph of spirit when the world becomes unrecognizable.

“Courageous and provocative, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a beautifully crafted novel of international ...
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Introduction

This unforgettable novel puts human faces on the Syrian war with the immigrant story of a beekeeper, his wife, and the triumph of spirit when the world becomes unrecognizable.

“Courageous and provocative, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a beautifully crafted novel of international significance that has the capacity to have us open our eyes and see.”—Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Nuri is a beekeeper and Afra, his wife, is an artist. Mornings, Nuri rises early to hear the call to prayer before driving to his hives in the countryside. On weekends, Afra sells her colorful landscape paintings at the open-air market. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the hills of the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo—until the unthinkable happens. When all they love is destroyed by war, Nuri knows they have no choice except to leave their home. But escaping Syria will be no easy task: Afra has lost her sight, leaving Nuri to navigate her grief as well as a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece toward an uncertain future in Britain.

Nuri is sustained only by the knowledge that waiting for them is his cousin Mustafa, who has started an apiary in Yorkshire and is teaching fellow refugees beekeeping. 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 even the bravest souls. Above all, they must make the difficult journey back to each other, a path once so familiar yet rendered foreign by the heartache of displacement.

Moving, intimate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book for our times: a novel that at once reminds us that the most peaceful and ordinary lives can be utterly upended in unimaginable ways and brings a journey in faraway lands close to home, never to be forgotten.

Advance praise for The Beekeeper of Aleppo

“This book dips below the deafening headlines, and tells a true story with subtlety and power.”—Esther Freud, author of Mr. Mac and Me

“This compelling tale had me gripped with its compassion, its sensual style, and its onward and lively urge for resolution.”—Daljit Nagra, author of British Museum

“This novel speaks to so much that is happening in the world today. It’s intelligent, thoughtful, and relevant, but very importantly it is accessible. I’m recommending this book to everyone I care about.”—Benjamin Zephaniah, author of Refugee Boy

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of August 2019: When I would hear of Aleppo, the image it conjured is the now-iconic photo of a stunned and bloodied child sitting in an ambulance--collateral damage in Syria’s ongoing civil war. In the U.S. this conflict seemed so remote, but that image brought it close and engendered empathy for the plight of the people there. That’s what Christy Lefteri’s novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo does as well, a heart-wrenching story that humanizes the immigration debate by illuminating the sorts of desperate circumstances that compel people to flee their home countries or face a violent, and likely deadly, end. When the novel begins, ordinary Syrian couple Nuri and Afra’s son has been killed, Afra is blinded, and Nuri’s beloved apiary has been destroyed. Increasingly imperiled, they set out on a treacherous trek to the UK by way of Turkey and Greece—a journey that will test their already fractured relationship, and their faith in the world. Lefteri is the daughter of refugees and volunteered at a center for the displaced in Athens. What that experience imprinted on her permeates the pages of The Beekeeper of Aleppo; reading it will mark you in a deeply personal way too. —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. What impact does the war have on the life of the main characters?
2. Do you agree with Afra's need to remain in Syria at the beginning of the novel? What might this suggest about her state of mind?
3. Which of the two characters seem stronger at the start of the novel? Does this impression change by the end?
4. Are there similarities and differences in the way in which Nuri and Afra deal with the obstacles they face?
5. What do you think the author's intentions were by introducing the character of Mohammed? What could the relationship between Nuri and Mohammed reveal about Nuri's state of mind?
6. What do you think the bees and beekeeping represent and symbolize in the story?
7. At the end of the novel, Nuri says, "Mustafa has always given me something to hope for." To what extent does Mustafa influence the decisions that Nuri makes in his life and during his journey with Afra? In what ways might the friendship between the two men give the reader something to hope for?
8. It is because of Mustafa that Nuri strives to reach the U.K. Why do you think Nuri does not make contact with Mustafa as soon as he arrives?
9. Nuri contributes to the murder of Nadim. Do you condemn or agree with his actions?
10. Do you consider Nuri to be a weak or strong man?
11. Which character do you think changes the most during the course of the novel?
12. Why do you think Nuri finds it so difficult to make emotional and physical contact with Afra?
13. What might Afra's blindness reveal about her state of mind?
14. We never really meet Sami, but in what way do we learn about his character and the type of boy he was?
15. How does Nuri and Afra's relationship change during the course of the novel?
16. At the end of the story Afra says to Nuri, "You think it's me who can't see." What do you think she means by this? And how far do you agree with what she says?
17. Which character in the novel do you think displays the greatest emotional resilience?
18. What do you think happens at the end of the novel?
19. Can reading a novel about the experience of refugees offer a different perspective or have a different emotional impact to that of the media and news bulletins?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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