In Conversation with co-founder of Seattle Reads Chris Higashi and director of Sweet Crude/Seattle City Council candidate Sandy Cioffi.
Q: Have you been to Nigeria and witnessed the horrors that are at the center of Little Bee?
Chris Cleave: No I haven't and no I wouldn't - not to the Niger Delta area where the Nigerian parts of the book are set. Westerners there are frequently kidnapped and ransomed. I wouldn't dare. Everything I know about that area is from journalists, much braver people than me.
(In 2005-2008, Sandy Cioffi made four trips to the volatile Niger Delta in Nigeria to film Sweet Crude, documenting conditions there and interviewing the region’s key stakeholders, including leadership of the armed resistance movement. In April 2008, she and her film crew were detained by the Nigerian State Security Services and held in military prison for seven days. She completed Sweet Crude, which has garnered several awards including the Lena Sharpe Persistence of Vision Award at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2009. She is currently running for Seattle City Council.)
Chris Cleave's debut novel Incendiary, about a terrorist bomb in London, was published in Britain July 7, 2005, the day of the London subway and train bombings. It won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction award 2005 and won the Prix Spécial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007. His second novel is titled Little Bee in Canada and the US, where it is a New York Times #1 bestseller. It is titled The Other Hand in the UK, where it is a Sunday Times bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards. Chris Cleave has been a barman, a long-distance sailor and teacher of marine navigation, an internet pioneer and a journalist. Cleave is in Seattle May 12-14 for The Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Reads Little Bee program.