The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq (Paperback)

The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq By Dunya Mikhail, Max Weiss (Translated by) Cover Image
By Dunya Mikhail, Max Weiss (Translated by)
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The true story of a beekeeper who risks his life to rescue enslaved women from Daesh

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 sexually abused, 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 own lives to save those of others. 

About the Author

Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi American poet and writer. She is the author of the poetry collections The War Works Hard (shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize), Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea (winner of the Arab American Book Award), The Iraqi Nights (winner of the Poetry Magazine Translation Award), and In Her Feminine Sign (chosen as one of the ten best poetry books of 2019 by The New York Public Library). Her nonfiction book The Beekeeper was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her debut novel, The Bird Tattoo, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Mikhail won the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture and the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing.

Max Weiss is an Associate Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. He is the author of In the Shadow of Sectarianism, and the translator of Samar Yazbek’s A Woman in the Crossfire and Nihad Sirees’s The Silence and the Roar.

Praise For…

Haunting and captivating—a powerful portrait of courage.
— Elle UK

Mikhail’s harrowing account of the horrors inflicted on women captured by Isis...A powerful reminder.
— Financial Times

The Beekeeper is a brutally important, electrifying, and lyrical true story.
— Paige Van de Winkle - Foreward

A searing portrait of courage.
— New York Times Book Review

Iraqi journalist and poet Mikhail 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.
— Publishers Weekly

The stories in The Beekeeper are reminiscent of tales of escapees on the US’s Underground Railroad of the mid-1800s or during the Holocaust. The book is a paean for coexistence in a multiethnic, multi-religious, multilingual Iraq. Powerful and difficult.

— M. Lynx Qualey - The National

Dunya Mikhail, award-winning poet, has gathered first-person stories from those who survived [an] unthinkable ordeal, as well as those who worked tirelessly to rescue them. We should all read it.
— Peter Stanford - The Observer

This remarkable book tells of one man’s attempts to fight back and to rescue his people from a life of horror. In the hands of Dunya Mikhail, an Iraqi Assyrian poet, the stories of these women and their escape, with Abdullah’s help, become a horrifying tightrope walk. Abdullah’s story is a remarkable one, and it is told with great intensity by Mikhail.
— Louise Callaghan - The Sunday Times (London)

Remarkable. A child’s perspective mingles freely with the poet’s mature voice,
both baffled by the paradoxes of so much beauty and so much destruction.
— Ron Charles - The Washington Post

Shakespeare would have enjoyed the poetry of Dunya Mikhail, who has spoken of love as a response to a war-torn world–an aesthetic, a value, and a
— Elizabeth Toohey - Christian Science Monitor

Product Details
ISBN: 9780811226127
ISBN-10: 0811226123
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: March 27th, 2018
Pages: 240
Language: English