The Naked Don't Fear the Water: A Journey Through the Refugee Underground (Paperback)Matthieu Aikins (author)
In 2016, a young Afghan driver and translator named Omar makes the heart-wrenching choice to flee his war-torn country, saying goodbye to Laila, the love of his life, without knowing when they might be reunited again. He is one of millions of refugees who leave their homes that year.
Matthieu Aikins, a journalist living in Kabul, decides to follow his friend. In order to do so, he must leave his own passport and identity behind to go underground on the refugee trail with Omar. Their odyssey across land and sea from Afghanistan to Europe brings them face to face with the people at heart of the migration crisis: smugglers, cops, activists, and the men, women and children fleeing war in search of a better life. As setbacks and dangers mount for the two friends, Matthieu is also drawn into the escape plans of Omar’s entire family, including Maryam, the matriarch who has fought ferociously for her children’s survival.
Harrowing yet hopeful, this exceptional work brings into sharp focus one of the most contentious issues of our times. The Naked Don’t Fear the Water is a tale of love and friendship across borders, and an inquiry into our shared journey in a divided world.
Publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Dimensions: 197 x 125 mm
‘The Naked Don’t Fear the Water is a riveting and heartrending look at the hidden world of refugees that challenged everything I thought I knew about the consequences of war and globalization. It’s the most important work on the global refugee crisis to date, and a crucial document of these tumultuous times. It will go down as one of the great works of nonfiction literature of our generation.’ — Anand Gopal, author of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist No Good Men Among the Living
'The Naked Don't Fear the Water is the most affecting book I have read about the iniquity of the refugee crisis since Exit West. The reporting is totally immersive, without ever losing its clarity, and gives a heartbreaking insight into the lives of normal people taking terrible risks to save themselves. I am amazed by Matthieu Aikins's quiet bravery and willingness to surrender to the story and the danger around him. It’s also, among many other things, a book about friendship and the global ties that bind us.' — Sam Knight, author of The Premonitions Bureau
‘This is a gripping, devastating book, and it must have taken great courage and determination to write. The human story of the “smuggler’s road” from Afghanistan to Europe is one of terrible suffering, and Aikins tells it with clarity and simplicity. I could write that The Naked Don’t Fear The Water should be given prizes, and no doubt it will, but it seems to me that the best way to honor this book would be for us all to read it and ask ourselves what we can do for the thousands of unknown and unrecognized people who are treading this terrifying path.’ — Hari Kunzru, author of Red Pill
‘Matthieu Aikins is that rarest of combinations – an intrepid journalist who writes beautifully. The Naked Don’t Fear the Water is a compellingly original piece of work, an unforgettable narrative about one of the great human epics of our day.’ — Jon Lee Anderson
‘A uniquely brave and enterprising venture into the heart of emigration, and a tragic witness to our times.’ — Colin Thubron, author of Shadow of the Silk Road
‘This is a book of radical empathy, crossing many borders – not just borders that separate nations, but also borders of form, borders of meaning, and borders of possibility. It is powerful and humane and deserves to find a wide, wandering readership.’ — Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit, West
‘Journalist Aikins debuts with a powerful account of the “long and dangerous journey” many Afghans take out of their war-torn country…The result is a heart-wrenching portrait of resilience and ingenuity under the most trying of circumstances.’ — Publishers Weekly
‘The book shines a humane spotlight on many of the people the author met along the way as well as on the role chance played in their fates, with particularly moving chapters on life within the Greek refugee camp. The narrative is scrupulous and often suspenseful. Sharp insider insights into a global dilemma.’ — Kirkus
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