Either we die here, or we escape together. A deeply moving story of courage in the face of unimaginable adversity.
In The Beekeeper of Sinjar, the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail tells the harrowing stories of women from across Iraq who have managed to escape the clutches of ISIS. Since 2014, ISIS has been persecuting the Yazidi people, killing or enslaving those who won't convert to Islam. These women have lost their families and loved ones, along with everything they've ever known. Dunya Mikhail weaves together the women's tales of endurance and near-impossible escape with the story of her own exile and her dreams for the future of Iraq.
In the midst of ISIS's reign of terror and hatred, an unlikely hero has emerged: the Beekeeper. Once a trader selling his mountain honey across the region, when ISIS came to Sinjar he turned his knowledge of the local terrain to another, more dangerous use. Along with a secret network of transporters, helpers, and former bootleggers, Abdullah Shrem smuggles brutalised Yazidi women to safety through the war-torn landscapes of Iraq, Syria, and Western Turkey.
This powerful work of literary nonfiction offers a counterpoint to ISIS's genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk torture and death to save the lives of others.
About the Author
Dunya Mikhail worked as a journalist for the Baghdad Observer before she was forced to flee Iraq. Her poetry collection The War Works Hard was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize. Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea won the 2010 Arab American Book Award for poetry. Dunya Mikhail has also been awarded the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She currently lives in Michigan.
This book makes a sound, and it should be a loud one. It is not for the faint-hearted, but they should read it anyway. We should all read it, if only to bear witness to an atrocity that happened on our watch, and that we cannot simply sweep away as concerning a faraway people of whose faith we know little. -- Peter Stanford * Observer *
Remarkable ... With this short book, the tragedies and the heroism of this time of horror will survive intact. -- Louise Callaghan * Sunday Times *
His story is worthy of being made into a film, his resourcefulness and everyman heroism carrying shades of Oskar Schindler...[Mikahil] attempts to rehumanise a war that has been reported on so often from an aerial, abstracted viewpoint. She takes us back to the ground - to all the terrible, fragile, human detail, so that its victims and survivors can be seen as they are, made painfully of flesh and blood -- Arifa Akbar * Guardian *
Rare and powerful... Mikhail has created a searing portrait of courage, humanity and savagery, told in a mosaic of voices. ... [her] gifts as a poet infuse these narratives with unexpected beauty * New York Times *
Mikhail bears witness to women in war-torn Iraq, women who have scarcely known peace throughout their lives. That she is a poet is clear on each page. * Kirkus Reviews *
Praise for Dunya Mikhail:
Mikhail's style maintains an impressive fragility and delicacy of image that touches the reader's heart... * American Poetry Review *