The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The winner of 2020 Aspen Word Prize! is written as a personal diary of one of the Syrian refugees, Nuri, on the way to seeking asylum in UK. It narrates in documentary details the troubles and travails that the refugees undergo while fleeing from the civil war ripped Syria. The refugees often flee only when there is no other glimmer of hope anywhere and the guns are pressed on their heads, after having taken a toll of their most precious loved ones.

The saga unfolds with the backdrop of the economic activity that usually happened when there was no civil war. That beekeeping and production of honey and it’s derivatives is such an important mainstay of Syria is refreshing to know, even as it goes up in flames in the civil war madness. Like the spiritual love story of Rumi and Sham of Tabriz, here is a love story of Nuri and his cousin Mustafa, in the economic world of beekeeping.

The story is narrated as an audiovisual art , with vivid and lively imagery of the sights and sounds of the refugees world, the activity is as intensely buzzing as the beehives of the story. It is a sad revelation that the journeys across the unwelcoming borders of countries are only at the mercy of God, the sometimes ferocious nature, and the manipulation of the smugglers and human traffickers.

The smuggled journeys are full of endless waiting and suspense and sudden change of policies and hence destinies. The horrors of child and adolescent abuse, abduction and a suggestion of trafficking for organs are a challenge to humanity. There is the constant presence of Afra, the artist and the blinded by trauma wife of Nuri , as a witness to the numbing terrors of the loss the civil wars inflict. But this scenario has been repeated so many times as a constant refrain.

The author could have ventured out to shed some light on the macro world of refugee generation and the mysterious and strange phenomena associated with it all through and long after the settlement after granting of asylum! Otherwise, the book is a personal diary of one refugee and depicts it’s scenario well! No doubt it is a great lively narrative with images and sounds that capture the sad but buzzing world of refugees vividly.