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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 Yamen Manai. Translation © 2021 by Lara Vergnaud. Excerpt from “Anger” in “Selections from the Bestiary of Leonardo Da Vinci,” trans. Oliver Evans, Vol. 64, No. 254, of the Journal of American Folklore, is used with permission from the American Folklore Society (www.afsnet.org). (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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What listeners say about The Ardent Swarm

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Beautiful

This book was a joy to read and listen to. The writing is phenomenal the performance is as well and the story is sublime.

2 people found this helpful

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Such a wonderful story

I loved this book because I learned so much about bees, culture and extremist views. How a group of people and a group of Hornets can terrorize what was a beautiful life before they came.

1 person found this helpful

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Drew me into the story

I really enjoyed this story. I also love stories from different cultural and geographic perspectives and learned more about bees and humans. Worth listening to!

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  • D.
  • 08-09-22

Fun but a little muddled

This is my first completed book of my August Picks and it was a fun one! Yamen Manai takes us on a journey to the North African village of Nawa, where Sidi lives a withdrawn but settled life with his wife (who saves the day, if you ask me, but I won't spoil that for you!) raising bees. (We won't talk about how annoying I find it that he refers to these insects throughout the entire book as his "girls." Not "sweethearts," or "babies," or even "lovers," but "girls.")

The plot was a little muddled, I thought, as Manai's metaphor might have actually been a matter of conflation. The invasion of a deadly wasp on his bees' hives, which threatened Sidi's own livelihood and apparently the future of the whole region poses a serious problem-- maybe just as serious as the simultaneous storyline in which the region's neighborhoods and educational institutions become infiltrated by religious extremists? Until the very last minute, when Manai lines everything up, I wasn't sure how everything was supposed to connect. I didn't even think it related except by convenience of location.

Maybe the extended metaphor at work here needs another leg...or two...but the last couple scenes are fantastic and tie the book together beautifully. I did enjoy this book both for a great ending, and for the great research.

Do you remember how everyone squealed about how much they learned about beekeeping from THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES? Well. This book kind of shows that one way up!

📙52 Book Challenge (set on at least 2 continents)📔

Rating 3.5 stars
Finished August 2022
Recommended for fans of contemporary fiction; readers seeking diverse voices and stories

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Captivating

I felt this story was a little slow to start, but I’m glad I continued on. Once I got into the story I really enjoyed it.

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Descriptions Will Make You Literally SICK

I could not get past the descriptions of sexual acts (not any normal ones) in the beginning. The reviews about how beautiful this book is just leave me shaking my head.

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  • Anon
  • 08-30-21

Beautiful story

I really loved this story, I started and stopped a few times at the beginning but when I got into it I was hooked. Politics, religion, corruption, humanity and bees. There is so much going on in this book and the story just intertwines beautifully.

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  • nev kidd
  • 06-18-21

A beautifully crafted story, excellently narrated

The use of bees to highlight the socioeconomic and ecological changes in Tunisia is pure genius, each charater is well rounded and their role with this allegorical work is precisely what makes the story so enjoyable.
Yhe narrator is fabulous.

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  • Anuli
  • 05-01-21

brilliant work

The writer made the life and culture of bees really interesting . it is the second book I have read with a story around bees and its an amazing read

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  • BeachSamurai
  • 10-14-21

amazing book

good writing
amazing story
really enjoyed the read...
would read again.
xxxxxx xxx xxx

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