Non-Fiction Book of the Month – October

The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma-Jane Kirby

Although about completely true events, the narrative has a lyrical and almost dreamlike quality that perfectly conveys the at times surreal horror of the subject matter: an ordinary man, an optician by profession, is on  a boating trip with some friends when they encounter a large number of migrants attempting to reach the shore from Tunisia.  The natives’ extremely concerted efforts to save them are partly successful but largely thwarted not just by natural forces but by the machinations of state.

This is an absolutely wonderful and urgent piece of writing as much about the enormous morally fraught argument around how to “deal with” mass migration as about how people can be changed by events totally beyond their control or frame of reference.