Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Little Bee

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Little Bee

(aka The Other Hand)

by Chris Cleave

Little Bee
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2009, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2010, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Beyond the Book

Chris Cleave's Inspiration for Little Bee
In interviews and on his web site, Cleave cites two events that inspired him to write a novel about refugees in the UK. Cleave worked in the canteen of a refugee detention center while on summer break from university, and was amazed to find that he'd been living within ten miles of the place for years without knowing of its existence. "The conditions in there were very distressing," he writes. "I got talking with asylum seekers who'd been through hell and were likely to be sent back to hell. Some of them were beautiful characters and it was deeply upsetting to see how we were treating them... I knew I had to write about it, because it's such a dirty secret. And I knew I had to show the unexpected humour of these refugees wherever I could..."

The second incident was a news story that came to his attention. "In 2001 an Angolan man named Manuel Bravo fled to England and claimed asylum on the grounds that he and his family would be ...

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