“𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒆 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒖𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔, 𝒔𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒆 𝒅𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒂𝒓𝒌𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔.”
The Beekeeper of Aleppo is beautifully written, but it should be mainly read for its subject matter. Christy Lefteri portrays the journey of Syrian refugees in a realistic, emphatic, and respectful manner.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo tells a story of Nuri, a beekeeper from a beautiful ancient Syrian city of Aleppo and his wife, Afra, who worked as an artist. Before the war, they led a peaceful family life surrounded by their loved ones and friends. Then, suddenly everything changes; they lose their son, Sami due to the bomb blast in their garden; they witness beheadings, killings, tortures. Afra due to the blast and shock after losing her child becomes blind. They are forced to flee Syria to survive. We accompany Nuri and Afra as they travel through Turkey, Greece in order to reach the shores of England where Nuri’s cousin, Mustafa lives.
We observe the broken world that Nuri and Afra must pass through in order to find a new ‘home’. The themes of human trafficking, emotional and physical abuse that refugees are subject to, severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder that most people fleeing war, conflict, ethnic cleansing experience, child trafficking, unaccompanied child refugees, uncertainty encountered in new countries, dealing with inhumanity of asylum application in the UK as portrayed in the book are explored here.
Christy Lefteri offers an immensely powerful storytelling for the readers to understand a little bit about the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. In the country like UK, this book should become a part of national curriculum to encourage understanding and empathy towards the most disadvantaged people trying to find a new home among us.
Most of refugees after losing countless members of their families to the worst imaginable atrocities, they are forced to flee across the stormy seas and dangerous lands just to experience more hatred, discrimination, and xenophobia. They are traumatized in need of specialist help, but often they are left on their own to fend for themselves.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone. The main objective of literature is to increase empathy, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo does just that brilliantly.
If you are interested in Syria, I would highly recommend you to watch a short documentary: ‘ 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo’ made in August 2012 by a Syrian photographer, Issa Touma. He spent nine days locked in his flat in Aleppo recording the emerging civil war just outside his window. I would also highly recommend another short interview with Issa Touma conducted by Hanin Elias for Syriana Analysis. It is called ‘A Tour with Issa Touma in Aleppo’. Both films are available on YouTube.