The New Odyssey Book Review
From smuggling networks in North Africa and dangerous Mediterranean crossings to the difficult asylum process refugees face if they arrive in Europe, The New Odyssey by Patrick Kingsley, covers it all in astoundingly intimate detail. Released at the beginning of the summer and published by Guardian Books, this book takes its reader on a roller coaster ride through the long and winding journey of today's refugees and asylum seekers.
The New Odyssey Book Review
Kingsley, who is the Guardian's migration correspondent and the UK's foreign affairs journalist of the year in 2015, has mastered the art of storytelling. At times he holds us in suspense, as we wait to find out what will happen next, and at others he allows the reader to completely lean in to the complex emotion of the journey. I laughed, I cried, I ground my teeth in anger, and even cheered while blazing through The New Odyssey's 329 pages.
It's one thing to be told that you should care about refugees. It's entirely another to be shown.
That's what The New Odyssey does; it acts as a tool that can transform an amorphous, frightening group of people, moving across the world into individuals who are making unimaginably difficult decisions as they flee danger at home and seek out safe places for their families to rest from wandering. We can't put ourselves in a refugee's shoes if we don't know what their shoes look like or where they have been. Kingsley gives his readers a way to walk many miles in their shoes, to feel fear with them, as well as frustration, disappointment, and finally (for some) relief.
If you think this book sounds like it works too closely in the refugees' favor, let me tell you what I appreciate about Kingsley's writing, second only to his masterful storytelling. Kingsley doesn't presume to have all the answers. He doesn't write as though he absolutely knows why migration flows are higher than they have ever been, and he doesn't claim that every migrant should qualify for refugee status. When he shares his opinion, he makes sure his readers know that it is indeed an opinion. He simply invites us to see and hear along with him what he has encountered during his travels; he allows the refugees and migrants he interviews to speak for themselves, and then he leaves us to come to our own conclusions.
In a world of definitive rhetoric and blustery politicians, it is refreshing to hear about the refugee crisis from those who are actually living it, through a writer who knows how to let the story speak for itself. The New Odyssey is an easy read, packed with heavy content - a combination that is sure to keep you engaged page after page. I encourage you to order a copy and sit down prepared to encounter refugees face to face.
Image Credit: Faber