The Optician of Lampedusa (Hardback)
  • The Optician of Lampedusa (Hardback)
zoom

The Optician of Lampedusa (Hardback)

(author)
5 Reviews Sign in to write a review
£9.99
Hardback 128 Pages / Published: 29/09/2016
  • In stock online

Usually dispatched within 24 hours

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect
I can hardly begin to describe to you what I saw as our boat approached the source of that terrible noise. I hardly want to. You won't understand because you weren't there. You can't understand. You see, I thought I'd heard seagulls screeching. Seagulls fighting over a lucky catch. Birds. Just birds.

Shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016

From the award-winning BBC journalist Emma-Jane Kirby, The Optician of Lampedusa crystallises the full horror of the migrant experience into one concise, stunningly-written volume.

Carmine Menna is an optician on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Like many on the island he has a boat, a yacht built for eight. A sailing holiday with friends is immediately transformed into a brutalised hell as the group awake to hundreds in the water around them, migrants overboard from an unseaworthy vessel. Forced to play god and saving who they can, ultimately 47 are plucked from the water, their own boat near to sinking with the additional weight.

360 were drowned.

For Menna, his life was irrevocably changed. He is, as he puts it, an ordinary man; no life-saver, nobody whose experience had ever led to this moment. For Kirby, the need to push this beyond a one-off news report was all-consuming. On a planet where human life is cut down with numbing ease, the raw humanity of the optician’s tale took hold in her subconscious; a good man, forced to act, righting a universal wrong.

The radio piece done, the narrative flowered in what was to become The Optician of Lampedusa, a profound volume that records the fear, the selfless bravery, the sorrow and the ultimate, fragmented redemption of a person who we hope we could be, faced by horror. Its sensitive but razor-edged verse reminds us that to do, we must act.

'This is an ambitious and important book that goes far beyond the voyeurism of 24-hour news to identify something timeless and troubling.' - Peter Stanford, The Times

'A book that can be devoured as if it were a novel, but in which everything is true'. - Le Parisien

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780241295281
Number of pages: 128
Weight: 201 g
Dimensions: 223 x 144 x 13 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Poetically written, absorbing, harrowing . . . a moving and unusual achievement -- Fiona Wilson * The Times *
An important book. . . I cried all the way through -- Tracy Chevalier
An ambitious and important book that goes far beyond the voyeurism of 24-hour news to identify something timeless and troubling... a moral tale, following events through the eyes of the fastidiously ordinary optician never named in the text and thereby transformed into an everyman . . . Emma Jane Kirby challenges us to do more than cry. -- Peter Stanford * Observer *
A novelistic retelling of a man's tragic encounter with the European migrant crisis - a true story that brings a fresh perspective to events that are often hard to visualise. -- Melissa Lawford * Financial Times *
An eloquent, extraordinary story for our times * Tablet, Book of the Year *
A moving insight * Financial Times, Book of the Year *
A book that can be devoured as if it were a novel, but in which everything is true. * Le Parisien *
A heartfelt story . . . at once horrifying and comforting * Le Soir *
Deeply moving. . . this is a tale of transformation, of a man just like you and me. * Journal du Dimanche *
With skill and composure that marks it as a work of literature rather than a journalistic report, Emma-Jane Kirby explores closely the innermost upheaval of one human being faced with the tragedy of another: the cause of such suffering is born of guilt, but also of a sense of humanity born of uncontrollable empathy. * La Croix *
A shock to the system, it forces us to think. . . the optician is an ordinary man, no better no worse than us. * France 2 *

You may also be interested in...

The Optician of Lampedusa
Added to basket
#cook for Syria
Added to basket
£25.00
Hardback
The Last Act of Love
Added to basket
£8.99   £5.99
Paperback
Reasons to Stay Alive
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Sane New World
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
Fixing Dad
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
Lessons I've Learned
Added to basket
The Novel Cure
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The Emergency Poet
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Hardback
In Therapy
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
If I Could Tell You Just One Thing...
Added to basket
Stressed, Unstressed
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Breathe
Added to basket
£12.99
Paperback
When Breath Becomes Air
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Soul Food
Added to basket
£7.99
Paperback

Reviews

View all
Hux - Blogger, @littlehux

“Every single person must read this book”

his is the book you press into the hands of anyone who bad mouths migrants fleeing for a new life. The Optician of Lampedusa is the account of an Optician and his 7 friends who take a boat trip one October to... More

Hardback edition
5th December 2016
Helpful? Upvote 57

“The Optician of Lampedusa”

I found the style rather tedious, but the story is successful in parts. It does promote thought and sadness for the victims.

Hardback edition
12th December 2016
Helpful? Upvote 41

“The optician of Lampedusa”

This is a sensitively written story which tells of the trauma experienced by refugees arriving on Lampadusa and the huge impact it has on a group of ordinary people unexpectedly find themselves rescuing refugees from... More

Hardback edition
6th January 2017
Helpful? Upvote 25

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.