Chris Cleave is a novelist and a columnist for The Guardian newspaper in London.
His debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club's First Fiction award 2005 and won the Prix Spécial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007.
Inspired by his childhood in West Africa and by an accidental visit to a British concentration camp, Chris Cleave's second novel is titlled The Other Hand in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is titled Little Bee in the US and Canada.
Chris Cleave has been a barman, a long-distance sailor, a teacher of marine navigation, an internet pioneer and a journalist. He lives in London with his French wife and three mischievous Anglo-French children.
Chris Cleave's website
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In two separate interviews Chris Cleave talks about Incendiary (2006), in which a distraught woman writes a letter to bin Laden after her family are killed by a massive suicide bomb; and Little Bee (2008) which "delivers a timely challenge to reinvigorate our notions of civilized decency."
A Conversation with Chris Cleave about Little Bee
Why did you choose to open the novel with the quote from Life in
the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship? What does the typo in
this quote mean for you?
The quote is "Britain is proud of its tradition of providing a safe haven for people fleeting [sic] persecution and conflict." I took it from Life in the United Kingdom, which is the text book given to immigrants preparing for their citizenship test in the UK. It covers British history, government and etiquette. It offers the excellent advice "If you spill a stranger's drink by accident, it is good manners (and prudent) to offer to buy another." Less gloriously, though, its summary of British history is rather selective, and the work as a whole is riddled with inaccuracies and typographical errors. My belief is that if a refugee is prepared to walk away from a regime ...
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