Napoleon’s Beekeeper

José Luis de Juan


Translated by Elizabeth Bryer

Winner of the prestigious ‘Premio Novela Breve Juan March Cencillo’

May 1814. On the island of Elba, the beekeeper Andrea Pasolini awaits the arrival of the exiled Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Though an uneducated farmer, Pasolini’s first love is reading books on philosophy and apiculture – a secret, illicit activity he undertakes in his cellar at night. Napoleon is also fascinated, by the swarming of bees and the beauty of honey. From a distance, an obsessive interest develops between the two men, as anticipation builds around a visit by the Emperor to inspect Pasolini’s beehives.

In this novella, José Luis de Juan meticulously interweaves historical sources with an imagining of the lives of two very different men, one a humble apiarist on an island, the other – also born on an island – who aspires to be the ruler of the world. In an atmosphere of shifting identities, magical dreams, furtive plots and deferred uprisings, in favour of Napoleon and against him, each man is convinced that the behaviour of bees holds the key to how the future will unfold.

‘A novel of atmosphere, hypnotic, full of symbols, marked by a diabolical precision.’ Le Magazine Littéraire

‘One of those marginal and miraculous works that is spoken of like a conspirator.’  Le Nouvel Observateur

Download high-res cover image

ISBN : 9781925818239
pp : 128
Published : February 2020

Categories: ,

About the Author

José Luis de Juan was born on Mallorca, in Spain’s Balearic Islands. He is the author of eight novels, as well as stories, non-fiction and poetry, for which he has received literary awards in Spain and abroad.  He writes for journals such as El País and Revista de Libros, and has been a member of the Jury for the IMPAC International Award.  Napoleon’s Beekeeper was the winner of the prestigious ‘Premio Novela Breve Juan March Cencillo’.


Winner, Premio Novela Breve Juan March Cencillo


ANZ LitLovers
Rough Ghosts