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May 22, 2018 - 

Dunya Mikhail, an Iraqi-American poet and journalist, puts both talents to good use inThe Beekeeper. She tells the stories of many women who were kidnapped by the Daesh, also known as ISIS. Daesh forces would enter a village, kill the people they deemed useless to them, and force the women into sex slavery in the name of Islam.

Many of these stories come to Mikhail through Abdullah, a beekeeper who works tirelessly to rescue women from captivity through an extensive network of people. The women’s stories are devastating—husbands and fathers executed, women sold, and young boys sent for “reeducation.” Abdullah and his friends do everything they can to reunite women with their relatives. He’s even been involved in rescues of his own extended family.

Mikhail has a journalist’s willingness to push for the story, but she also uses the language of poetry to conjure both the devastation and the beauty of her home culture. While writing the book she returned to Iraq for the first time in 20 years to see for herself what was happening and speak face-to-face with some of the victims of the terror.

The Beekeeper is a heartbreaking and important book. (New Directions)

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