The Optician of Lampedusa – a tale for our times and the chance to contribute

“I never wanted to tell you this story,” he’d told me. “Because it’s not a nice story.” I think the optician knew I’d be haunted by it. But I think he also knew that his was a tale that needed to be told. So here he was now, watching me night after night, waiting for me to tell it again; that, I understood, had been the unspoken deal. That is the deal with the optician’s story. Once you hear it, you have to pass it on. – The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby

I have to admit right away that I’m a biased reporter in this case. Emma Jane Kirby is an old friend of mine, and I’ve watched proudly as she has become an enormously respected, award-winning journalist and a familiar voice on the Radio 4’s The World at One and PM. Her talent is the ability to take listeners into the lives of others with extraordinary perception and clarity. Now she has written a book based on her searing reports on the drowning of many migrants off the coast of Italy. It is no surprise to me that it is a brilliant piece of work, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. It has been made the Waterstone’s Book of the Month for November, as well as being shortlisted for Book of the Year.

James Daunt, MD of Waterstones, said: “It is a very special book, one that works surreptitiously. Written in a simple, direct style, it is close to a thriller in pace and narrative drive. Few, I think, will not be moved by it and, perhaps more importantly, provoked by it.”

The really important thing is that Waterstones will make a contribution of £5 made to Oxfam for every copy sold in the month. So now is the time to buy it and raise money for a very good cause.

Buy in-store this month or online