Chris Cleave - The Other Hand (4 stars)

Chris Cleave - The Other Hand



After the success of his 2005 debut novel The Incendiary, Chris Cleave turns his attention from terrorist attacks to the equally provocative issue of immigration. Written as a first person narrative, The Other Hand describes the life of Little Bee, a 16-year-old Nigerian who has spent two years in a British detention centre. Her character has a richly humorous personality which belies a hidden tragedy. ‘A sad story means this storyteller is alive’, she tells us, and although Cleave writes to celebrate the strength of the human soul, he doesn’t spare the reader from the dark corners of horror Little Bee has witnessed.

Intertwined with this tale of tragedy is Sarah, a journalist whose involvement is only slowly and delicately revealed. Wisely, Cleave doesn’t dwell on the political specifics for his fiction, instead he focuses on what he’s best at: creating an individual at the heart of the statistics.

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