The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

A Novel

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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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 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.

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
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781984821218
Branch Call Number: FIC Lefte
Characteristics: 317 pages ; 22 cm.


From the critics

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Dec 10, 2019

This is one of the best books I have read in years. A very insightful look into a refugees life and struggles.

Sep 03, 2019

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is an emotional journey, told through the eyes of Nuri, a lifelong resident of Aleppo, Syria, and professional beekeeper. We follow Nuri’s pre-war/pre-exodus life in Syria, interspersed with the story of his perilous flight from his homeland to Western Europe.

As you can imagine, the tale is fraught with danger and uncertainty. Narrowly escaping conscription by ISIS, and clandestine meetings with smugglers and other characters of an underworld borne of violence and extremism - where having the right paperwork and enough money for bribes can make the difference between life and death -, nighttime sea crossings and overfilled, makeshift camps filled with both fellow refugees and those who would prey upon them.

It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking and - somehow still - hopeful story of a man and his family risking their lives and leaving everything they have to escape to someplace where they have a chance at life.

As jarring and ugly as some of the depictions of life in war-torn Aleppo and the hair-raising near-misses along Nuri’s escape were, the thing that truly wrenched my heart was feeling that he was becoming acclimated (and somewhat numb) to the violence and horrors unfolding around him.

It’s a story that needed telling, and I would absolutely encourage you to listen.

I was provided with an electronic copy of #TheBeekeeperOfAleppo by #NetGalley in return for my honest review.

OPL_BethS Aug 13, 2019

Sympathetic, introspective, courageous and with a strong sense of place without being overly descriptive. Because of the conflict and war in Syria, Nuri & his wife, Afra, are forced to flee the life they love and try to make their way through Europe to meet friends in England. The author does an excellent job of showing ways grief can fundamentally change you and your relationships with people and the world.

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