The Optician of Lampedusa (Hardback)Emma Jane Kirby (author)
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
Number of pages: 128
Weight: 201 g
Dimensions: 223 x 144 x 13 mm
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 *
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ReviewsView all Sign In To Write A Review
“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
“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.
“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
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