Emma Jane Kirby found a way to make the world take notice of the migrant crisis: she told the story of an man who pulled drowning people from the sea. Her radio reports became The Optician of Lampedusa, described by Tracy Chevalier as “the most important book I read this year”. Emma tells how she found her subject, how she crafted it, and how she got the world’s attention.
A longtime correspondent for Radio 4’s PM programme, Emma Jane is a familiar voice to listeners and is fresh from covering the French presidential election – some of it from a bike.
Reviews of The Optician of Lampedusa
“This is an ambitious and important book that goes far beyond the voyeurism of 24-hour news to identify something timeless and troubling. Shortly after the drownings, Pope Francis spoke of “a day for tears”. Emma Jane Kirby challenges us to do more than cry.” Guardian
“The most important book I read this year. I did cry all the way through it, but I am glad I read it.” Tracy Chevalier
“A true story that brings a fresh perspective to events that are often hard to visualise.” FT