THE NEW ODYSSEY by Patrick Kingsley
Kirkus Star


The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis
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Bravely following the refugee crisis from the Middle East to the European Union as it gains volume and urgency.

The former Egypt correspondent for the Guardian and fortuitously named “the inaugural migration correspondent” at the paper just last year, Kingsley (How to be Danish: A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark, 2014) takes both a personal and altruistic approach to the massive migration of peoples fleeing Syria and other global hot spots. In the past few years, there has been a huge spike in the numbers of civilians fleeing conflicts in the Middle East—indeed, an unprecedented number not equaled since the end of World War II. Since 2014, more than 1.4 million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach ports in Turkey, Greece, or Italy, and from there to more benevolent havens in northern Europe such as Sweden and (now) Germany. Kingsley diligently pursues the fates of several specific refugees (though he prefers the more neutral word “migrant” over the politically heavy “refugee”). For example, Hashem, a Damascus civil servant with a wife and three sons, was rounded up in 2012 by the Syrian dictator’s police force, senselessly imprisoned and tortured, before the innocent man realized he and his family had to flee to survive. So he headed out on a long, expensive, and very dangerous journey, by boat, rail, and foot, from Egypt to Sweden, where he hoped to find permanent residence and eventually bring his family with him. Elsewhere, the author examines the life of the smuggler, who, in many cases, was once a migrant himself but is now taking advantage of the vulnerable refugees and getting rich; and people like Eric Kempson, a volunteer on the Turkish island of Lesvos, who actually helps the migrants with sorely needed food, water, and transportation when they literally wash ashore. The numbers will keep growing, notes the author, and denying the problem or closing the borders will only make it worse.

A powerful firsthand account of a crisis that will continue to receive even more attention in the years to come.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1631492556
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Liveright/Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2016


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