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The Beekeeper of Aleppo

A Novel
Written by: Christy Lefteri
Narrated by: Art Malik
Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

"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

Winner of the Aspen Words Literary Prize • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by Real Simple

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)

©2019 Christy Lefteri (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"[Christy] Lefteri sensitively charts what it’s like when war comes home, alert to the subtle effects of trauma and grief. Nuri and Afra are not broadly sketched as victims, but rather suffer in different and complex ways from PTSD.... By creating characters with such rich, complex inner lives, Lefteri shows that in order to stretch compassion to millions of people, it helps to begin with one." (Time)

"Beekeeper Nuri and his wife, Afra, are devastated by the Syrian civil war. After violence claims their child and Afra’s eyesight, the couple is forced to flee Aleppo and make the fraught journey to Britain - and an uncertain future." (USA Today Five Books Not to Miss)

"In recounting the daily brutality as well as the glimmers of beauty, this novel humanizes the terrifying refugee stories we read about in the news. Lefteri explores questions of trust and portrays what trauma and loss can do to individuals and their relationships.... A beautiful rumination on seeing what is right in front of us - both the negative and the positive." (The Boston Globe Pick of the Week)

What listeners say about The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book!!

Couldn’t put it down. Connected with the characters. Excellent writing! Read this with my book club and we all loved it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-01

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Everyone should listen to this book or read it. A masterpiece on so many levels.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Canyonista
  • 2019-11-02

Haunting and Beautiful

Sometimes the books you need to read find you. Lefteri uses the power of story and character to bring to life the heartbreak of those fleeing their country. The story makes me long for home. It makes me wonder, “Who am I to love a life without horrors and pain?” The narrator’s rich voice brings gravitas to the story. I’m grateful for this beautiful work of hope.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jeanette H.
  • 2019-09-29

Awesome!

This book reminds me a lot of The House Of Sand and Fog. A wonderful story of loss, love and resilience.

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  • Abby Mamacos
  • 2020-07-28

Just TOO AWFULLY DEPRESSING WITHOUT ending with any hope

Reading this book is the most awful experience to go through without any hope right to the end.
Of course, it is beautifully written, especially the part experiencing the bees.
I feel just awful about life after reading this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lisa Warren
  • 2020-01-02

Heartbreaking. Eye-opening.

This is a beautifully-written look at what refugees experience when countries fall apart. Lefteri's writing is powerful and lovely, and Nuri's story made me look at the refugee problem in an entirely new way. She really puts a human face on the issue by making you hurt for and love these people who, really, could be any of us. The audio book is read by a man named Art Malik, and he was the perfect choice. I loved his voice, his inflection, and his passion. I wish I could give this book six stars. Well done, Christy.

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  • Mama Mia
  • 2019-11-29

Incredible characters brought to life

I am undone by this story and the performance of Art Malik. The gentle yet emotional way the story unfolds, describing the horrors of war, the fleeing people, the PTSD, the hopes and dreams of normal families in the midst of terror. It has captured my heart.
Mr. Malik brings the characters to life.

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  • kulagirl
  • 2019-10-30

Outstanding

One of the best books I have read this year. If you really want to know what war is truly about, read this book. Christy Lefteri is an outstanding writer and really captures an in depth picture of what the lives of refugees are like. What a tapestry of human survival! This book will change you.

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  • AmaBooks
  • 2019-10-18

A must read

A wonderfully told story that helped me understand the deep loss and trauma behind each person forced to flee a war zone and the desperate need to survive that moves these “bodies without a soul” as the author describe them. Excelente narration makes the characters come to life.

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  • Neige Torrey Christenson
  • 2019-10-12

very moving and timely story of refugee life

This was an achingly beautiful story, expertly performed by Art Malik. I wept so many times while listening, and yet the author always balanced the grief of the refugee family's experiences with the beauty of human connection and hope. She brought the characters complexity to light with great artistry. I wish everyone would read this right now, and open their hearts with more compassion to those fleeing war in their countries.

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  • Jess
  • 2020-07-10

Loved the Narrator!

Powerful story of what it’s like to live in the midst of civil war. This is a tale of loss, struggle & hope.