Radio 2 Book Club - The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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The next book to be featured on the Jo Whiley Radio 2 Book Club will be The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the powerful debut novel by Christy Lefteri. It was released on 2 May and Christy will be on the show on Monday 24 June.

We have the chance for you to win 10 copies of this fantastic novel for your reading group! Please enter by Friday 28 June.

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We have an exclusive extract available for you to read. We also have some discussion questions for your group to use.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved The Beekeeper of Aleppo – here are some of their comments:

“This was an extremely moving book that gave a real human story to the plight of refugees, particularly those from Syria. Nuri is a beekeeper in Syria with a successful business, but as unrest escalates and the threat to his family becomes too great, he decides that they must leave and try to find their way to the UK, where his business partner is already headed. So begins their treacherous journey through Turkey, Greece and then across Europe. The story alternates between the present day and their wait to be awarded asylum seeker status in the UK and looking back at their life in Syria and their journey to the west. It is simply but beautifully written and is testament to the power of love and human spirit. Very thought-provoking.”

“This is the heart-breaking story of Nuri and his wife Afra and their journey from Syria to the UK. Refugees from violence in their own country, which resulted in the death of their son. The story explores the strength needed to overcome horrendous hardships and the eternal hope that life will improve and they will settle. Well worth reading.”

About the author

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Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens, and draws on her own personal experiences getting to know those escaping harrowing war torn regions. Everything in the book; dark or beautiful has come directly from people she has met.

Get involved

Tune in to Jo Whiley’s show on Monday 24 June to hear a live interview with Christy.

You can share your thoughts about the book with us on Twitter using #TheBeekeeperofAleppo, and you can also follow Christy.

You can also see what other readers thought or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Planning to buy The Beekeeper of Aleppo for your group? Buy books from Hive and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

Want to make sure you get the latest news? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

You can join the Radio 2 Book Club Facebook group, and also follow Jo Whiley on Twitter.


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