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The Optician of Lampedusa

by Emma Jane Kirby

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583353,773 (4.03)9
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.The Optician of Lampedusalives a quiet life with his wife on a remote Mediterranean island. He has seen the headlines about shipwrecked migrants, noticed the reception centre, even crossed paths with the occasional lost soul. Yet it is only when, one sunny October morning, a relaxing boat trip with friends unexpectedly turns into a heartbreaking rescue mission, that he truly comes face to face with the human tragedy unfolding on his doorstep - and on all of our doorsteps.… (more)
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Well written but depressing ( )
  karenshann | Dec 31, 2019 |
Oh wow - this is a book everyone should read. It reminds us of the need to not look away. The optician of Lampedusa, his wife and friends are very special people. I cried with them throughout this story. It's a powerful story, written beautifully, focusing on the small scale to help us understand the epic. ( )
  Mitch1 | Mar 25, 2018 |
The author is a BBC foreign correspondent, and what ended up as this book started out as a report for the Radio 4 flagship news programme, PM. A boat carrying 500+ African migrants sank just off the little Italian island of Lampedusa, which sits in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tunisia. The optician of the title, along with his wife and 6 of their friends, were spending a day or two on their friend's boat, sailing, when they came across the aftermath of the sinking, and ended up rescuing 47 of the migrants, who by that point had already been in the water a good 4 hours. This book is an extended look at what happened, the lead-up to their sailing break, the rescue, and what happened afterwards. I found it really moving, and it asks really important questions about helping or looking the other way, whilst never being preachy. Highly recommended, although not an easy read. ( )
  Jackie_K | Jan 11, 2018 |
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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.The Optician of Lampedusalives a quiet life with his wife on a remote Mediterranean island. He has seen the headlines about shipwrecked migrants, noticed the reception centre, even crossed paths with the occasional lost soul. Yet it is only when, one sunny October morning, a relaxing boat trip with friends unexpectedly turns into a heartbreaking rescue mission, that he truly comes face to face with the human tragedy unfolding on his doorstep - and on all of our doorsteps.

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