'A powerful piece of art... shocking, exciting and deeply affecting...[a] superb novel... Besides sharp, witty dialogue, an emotionally charged plot and the vivid characters' ethical struggles, THE OTHER HAND delivers a timely challenge to reinvigorate our notions of civilized decency.' (Independent
'Exquisitely balanced between terrible sadness and brilliant humour.' (Observer
'Big themes, high emotion and cliffhangers aplenty... an enormously affecting investigation of love, guilt and global responsibility, told with a bittersweet urgency.' (Justine Jordan, Guardian
'Searingly eloquent.' (Daily Mail
'An ambitious and fearless gallop from the jungles of Africa via a shocking encounter on a Nigerian beach to the media offices of London and domesticity in leafy suburbia...Cleave immerses the reader in the worlds of his characters with an unshakable confidence. ' (Lawrence Norfolk, Guardian
'totally believable... the author has a knack of explaining human suffering... I look forward to his next offering.' (Daily Express
'impresses as a feat of literary engineering... the plot exerts a fearsome grip.' (Daily Telegraph
'An exhilarating, disturbing read.' (James Urquhart, Independent
(Books of the Year) 20090101)
'You stay in thrall to the bittersweet end.' (Scotland on Sunday
'It would be hard not to romp through it.' (Financial Times
'By turns funny, sad and shocking' (Sainsburys Magazine
'The next Kite Runner.' (Library Journal
'Warm, witty and beautifully written.' (Sunday Tribune
'In a novel that tackles serious and uncomfortable subject matter, Cleave's writing makes one laugh and despair in equal measure. (4 stars)' (Time Out
'I felt the same excitement discovering this as I did Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
and Paul Torday's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
. There is an urgency here, an inability to put it down and a deep sense of loss once finished. It is a very special book indeed. Profound, deeply moving and yet light in touch, it explores the nature of loss, hope, love and identity with atrocity its backdrop. Read it and think deeply.' (Sarah Broadhurst, Bookseller
'Immensely readable and moving . . . an affecting story of human triumph'
(New York Times
'Artfully plotted... [a] strong yarn.' (Sunday Telegraph
'A better book than Chris Cleave's THE OTHER HAND may be published this year, but I wouldn't bet on it. This exquisitely written story of a Nigerian refugee and a British glossy magazine editor is the most powerful novel I've read in a long time. . . it's also a very funny book about brave, funny people who the reader quickly grows to love. . . But the heart of the book is Little Bee; naïve yet insightful and sophisticated, damaged yet capable of great courage and humour, she is an unforgettable character. I finished THE OTHER HAND in tears, and I still can't get it out of my head. Just read it.' (The Gloss
'Will blow you away... the best kind of political novel: You're almost entirely unaware of its politics because the book doesn't deal in abstractions but in human beings.' (Washington Post
'So far it's the best book of 2009, no question.' (Metro
From the Author
I went to a concentration camp by mistake. I climbed into a minibus with half a dozen other casual labourers and they bussed us off at dawn, destination unknown. I was a student; this was a summer job. The previous day we'd been sanitising toilets. The day before that we'd painted an underpass in child-friendly colours. My hands were still flecked with cerulean blue.
They waved us through a razor-wire perimeter fence, and then another and another. We were asking each other, why the high security? What are we daubing in bright colours today - Britain's nuclear deterrent? Now thin brown people appeared through the grey mist, fingers clawing the wire, imploring us as we passed. The minibus stopped and we were pushed through a crush of anxious men, pleading and remonstrating in half the languages on earth.
The place was Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre and it turned out we were there to serve canteen meals to dead men walking. True story. I spent the next three days slapping down scoops of mashed potato onto the plastic plates of Somalis, Sierra Leonians and others so traumatised that their nationalities could not be ascertained. The asylum seekers ate with plastic spoons. It would have been brave to provide men in their predicament with anything sharper.
I learned that there are nearly a dozen concentration camps in Britain today. The Home Office calls them `immigration removal centres' and I guess, since they pay for the razor wire and the plastic spoons, they get to call them what they like. The inmates are rounded up in dawn raids, having committed no evil other than to flee for their lives and seek asylum in the UK, which they are legally entitled to do. After detention in heartbreaking conditions, thousands each year are deported to countries where it is well known that many will be tortured and killed. Forgive me, but this thing we do to preserve Britain's character - it doesn't seem terribly British.
I wrote this novel because of two people I met in that place. The first, an Angolan, showed me a tiny photograph of his daughter. He said, She will starve if they deport me. Can you help? Both of us were crying. What could I do? I asked him if he wanted the carrots or the peas.
The second person, arriving at the head of the canteen queue, told me the following joke in his mellifluous Nigerian English: An asylum seeker goes to a nice hotel and he asks the barman, Sir, can you recommend me a fine port? And the barman says, Yes, Dover, now fuck off back home!
And somehow, in that terrible place, we were laughing.
I wrote those two characters - the tragic and the defiantly funny - into one brave Nigerian girl, Little Bee. She turns up on the doorstep of a slightly lost English woman one morning and simply asks, Can you help? I wanted to explore whether two such souls could save one other. I wanted to discover where, in our world and in the human heart, a person could truly find refuge. I hope you will enjoy the novel.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.