The beekeeper Rescuing the stolen women of Iraq

Dunyā Mīkhāʼīl, 1965-

Book - 2018

"Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won't convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women. The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who managed to escape the clutches of Daesh. Mikhail extensively interviews these women--who've lost their families and loved ones, who've been repeatedly sold, raped, psychologically tortured, and forced to manufacture chemical weapons--and as their tales unfold, an unlikely hero emerges: a beekeeper, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain, along with a wide network of transporters, helpers, and former cigarette smugglers, to ...bring these women, one by one, through the war-torn landscapes of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, back into safety. In the face of inhuman suffering, this powerful work of nonfiction offers a counterpoint to Daesh's genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk their lives to save those of others"--

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2nd Floor 956.70443/Mikhail Lost--Library Applied
New York, NY : New Directions Publishing Corporation 2018.
Main Author
Dunyā Mīkhāʼīl, 1965- (author)
Other Authors
Max Weiss, 1977- (translator)
Item Description
"Originally published in Arabic as Fi Suq al-sabaya by Al Mutawassit"--Title page verso.
First published as a New Directions paperback original in 2018.
Physical Description
211 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
  • 1. N
  • 2. The Bee Kingdom
  • 3. In the Sabaya Market
  • 4. Through the Eye of a Needle
  • 5. Five Tricks for Escaping Daesh
  • 6. In Daesh's Camp
  • 7. The Exodus
  • 8. My Grandmother's Grave
  • 9. The Chirp
  • 10. One Step Closer, Two Steps, Three
  • 11. Narjis, Narjis
  • 12. The Infidels
  • 13. Sinjar: The Beautiful Side
  • 14. The Spring
Review by New York Times Review

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Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [May 6, 2018]
Review by Booklist Review

Award-winning poet Mikhail, an Iraqi exile who fled her homeland in 1996 and eventually settled in Michigan, makes her nonfiction debut with a hybrid text that combines reportage and personal memoir with the intention of giving voice to northern Iraqi women victims of Daesh (known in the U.S. as ISIS). The survivors' stories are relentlessly horrific; words seem inadequate in describing the systematic slaughter, capture, sale, rape, and torture of human beings by other human beings. Mikhail is privy to these grisly narratives through the eponymous Beekeeper, Abdullah Shrem, an Iraqi man whose response to his personal tragedy of losing family was to create an extensive network through Iraq, Syria, and Turkey to rescue stolen women and their young children. Abdullah's frequent calls connect Mikhail to survivors, until she herself travels to Iraq for a first visit in two decades to witness Abdullah's miracles. Despite the inarguable significance of these survivors' stories, as literature, The Beekeeper ultimately disappoints. Mikhail's diary-like presentation, complete with phone interruptions, personal dreams recalled, and ruminations on the universe, feels inappropriately trivial amid the gruesome accounts of hideous inhumanity.--Hong, Terry Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Iraqi journalist and poet Mikhail (The Iraqi Nights) lays bare the agonizing experiences of the Yazidi people at the hands of ISIS in this visceral account of the outskirts of modern day Iraq. In 2014, ISIS began invading villages of northern Iraq, killing most of the men and enslaving the women and children. Much of Mikhail's account is made up of first-person testimonies of several survivors who speak of being repeatedly raped, sold to the highest bidder, and tortured. They recall losing their families and witnessing their children, raised by ISIS supporters, becoming "a distorted version" of who they once were. Mikhail also homes in on the rescue efforts of a man named Abdullah, a local beekeeper who used his knowledge of the region and the money he made selling honey in Iraq and Syria to cultivate a "hive of transporters and smugglers" to save women; he subsequently connected Mikhail to several survivors. Powerful and heartbreaking, this work lets the survivors tell their stories and highlights the courage of those risking their lives to rescue others. Photos. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Mikhail, a native of Iraq, returns to her home country from New York to tell the harrowing stories of Yazidi women living under the control of Daesh, known to Westerners as ISIS. A painful, wrenching read, these chronicles expose tremendous horrors of brutal rape, kidnapping, sex slavery, and incomprehensible domination as these women desperately search for some semblance of peace and escape-mental, physical, and emotional. Mikhail's poetic background lends a unique voice to these women in a narrative style that can be difficult to grasp and follow at times. VERDICT These women need to be heard, making this an important, commendable work. However, the atypical narrative format, which switches gears often and includes granular retellings of phone conversations, subjectively affects the reading experience.-Erin Entrada Kelly, Philadelphia © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An Iraqi journalist and poet long resident in New York returns to her native country to chronicle the misfortunes of Yazidi women under the rule of the Islamic State group.The country of the Yazidi lies outside Mosul in northern Iraq. Under the control of IS, also called Daesh, it saw the rise of two kinds of smugglers: of cigarettes and of captive women. Using tobacco was strictly forbidden under IS, to great penalty, but kidnapping women was a luxury, a prize of war, that was met by Yazidis and sympathetic Arabs smuggling them back to their families, sometimes impregnated by their captors. The beekeeper of Mikhail's (The Theory of Absence, 2014, etc.) title likens the stolen women to queen bees, the work of rescuing the sabaya, or sex slaves, to apiculture: "We worked like in a beehive," he says, "with extreme care and well-planned initiatives." The women are psychologically damaged and do not always reintegrate easily into Yazidi society. Their accounts are harrowing; one tells the author of being raped by a Daesh fighter who sang, "Oh, Muslim, come, there's a virgin in heaven" before assaulting her each night, promising her that in the afterlife she would remain a sex slave to serve the faithful, who "would kill themselves to meet their houris in heaven." Mikhail bears witness to them and other women in war-torn Iraq, women who have scarcely known peace throughout their lives. That she is a poet is clear on each page, as when she writes, "maybe Kurdistan is a daffodil that has only wilted temporarily, only temporarily." She writes affectingly and well, but newsworthy as it is, her account follows two major booksCathy Otten's With Ash on Their Faces and Nadia Murad's The Last Girlon the same subject and may be lost in the shuffle. That would be a shame, for it is a meritorious, urgent book that deserves an audience.All but true believers suffer under Daesh, Mikhail makes abundantly clearbut especially women. A powerful study. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.