The Ardent Swarm

The Ardent Swarm : A Novel

4.26 (1,608 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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From an award-winning Tunisian author comes a stirring allegory about a country in the aftermath of revolution and the power of a single quest.

Sidi lives a hermetic life as a bee whisperer, tending to his beloved "girls" on the outskirts of the desolate North African village of Nawa. He wakes one morning to find that something has attacked one of his beehives, brutally killing every inhabitant. Heartbroken, he soon learns that a mysterious swarm of vicious hornets committed the mass murder--but where did they come from, and how can he stop them? If he is going to unravel this mystery and save his bees from annihilation, Sidi must venture out into the village and then brave the big city and beyond in search of answers.

Along the way, he discovers a country and a people turned upside down by their new post-Arab Spring reality as Islamic fundamentalists seek to influence votes any way they can on the eve of the country's first democratic elections. To succeed in his quest, and find a glimmer of hope to protect all that he holds dear, Sidi will have to look further than he ever imagined.

In this brilliantly accessible modern-day parable, Yamen Manai uses a masterful blend of humor and drama to reveal what happens in a country shaken by revolutionary change after the world stops watching.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 204 pages
  • 139.7 x 210.82 x 17.78mm | 226.8g
  • Amazoncrossing
  • Seattle, United States
  • English
  • 154202045X
  • 9781542020459
  • 22,428

Review quote

Winner of the Prix Comar d'Or and the Prix des Cinq Continents

International Praise for The Ardent Swarm

"Yamen Manai...speaks with the accuracy of the scientist and at the same time the fire of a poet and the imagination of the novelist." --Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, in interview with Patrick Simonin, TV5 Monde

"[The Ardent Swarm explores] the problems of contemporary Tunisia but [they are] approached in a very gentle, very subtle way, with a smile." --Yvan Le Perec, France Bleu

"What a wonderful little book that is at once an enchantment, a hymn to nature, a warning about intolerance and the fundamentalism that threatens us, and also a great lesson in courage." --Gérard Collard, La Griffe Noire

Praise for The Ardent Swarm

"Warmth, compassion, and humanity, with here-and-there touches of sarcasm and humor. A well-told tale showing that modernity isn't always a blessing." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Masterly...The enormous talent on display here recommends a second reading to relish the author's storytelling ability." --Library Journal (starred review)

"The Ardent Swarm reminded me of my time in Tunisia in the years that followed the Jasmine Revolution in 2011. Drawing on real events that took place in the country, the author constructs a revealing allegory about the opposing political forces at work then. For readers who want to know more about the Arab Spring, The Ardent Swarm is a perfect place to begin their journey." --Jake Walles, Former U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia
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Rating details

1,608 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 46% (745)
4 37% (601)
3 13% (205)
2 3% (42)
1 1% (15)
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