Shortlisted for the Stanford Travel Book of the Year
'This powerful study looks behind the statistics and political slogans to reveal the human face of the refugee crisis.' Guardian
A mother who puts her children into a refrigerated lorry and asks 'what else could I do?' A runaway teenager who comes of age on the streets and in abandoned buildings. A student who leaves his war-ravaged country behind because he doesn't want to kill. Each of the thousands of people who come to Europe in search of asylum every year brings a unique story with them. But their stories don't end there.
In Lights in the Distance, acclaimed journalist Daniel Trilling draws on years of reporting to build a portrait of the refugee crisis, seen through the eyes of the people who experienced it first-hand. As the European Union has grown, so has a tangled and often violent system designed to filter out unwanted migrants - one that extends from the border into cities. Most of us became aware of the crisis when it apparently reached its peak in 2015, but the roots go much deeper. Visiting camps and hostels, sneaking into detention centres and delving into his own family's history of displacement, Trilling weaves together the stories of people he met and followed from country to country. In doing so, he shows that the terms commonly used to define them - refugee or economic migrant, legal or illegal, deserving or undeserving - fall woefully short of capturing the complex realities.
The founding myth of the EU is that it exists to ensure the horrors of the twentieth century are never repeated. Now, as it comes to terms with its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, the 'European values' of freedom, tolerance and respect for human rights are being put to the test. Lights in the Distance is a uniquely powerful and illuminating exploration of the nature and human dimensions of the crisis.
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Daniel Trilling is the editor of New Humanist magazine and has reported extensively on refugees in Europe. His work has been published in the London Review of Books, Guardian, New York Times and others, and won a 2017 Migration Media Award. His first book, Bloody Nasty People: the Rise of Britain's Far Right, was longlisted for the 2013 Orwell Prize. He lives in London.
Praise for Bloody Nasty People:
'With the threat posed by prejudice and bigotry ever greater at a time of economic crisis, Trilling's voice must be heard.' Owen Jones
'An indispensable guide to contemporary far-right British politics.' Will Self, Guardian
'A cracking book that respectfully weaves together testimonies and stories - of people and places - with national political formations, examining them alongside the deeper economic and cultural questions posed by globalisation.' Jon Cruddas, New Statesman
'A compelling narrative . . . Trilling challenges much conventional wisdom.' David Edgar, Guardian
A deeply moving and much needed reminder of the human tales which are so often obscured by political rhetoric on migration. -- Fatima Manji, Channel 4 News An engrossing account of refugees is a book to read for anyone who takes the biggest moral question of our age seriously. Trilling's journalistic skill once again shines in this reportage. -- Ece Temelkuran Daniel Trilling has emerged as one of our most intrepid and resourceful reporters. In Lights in the Distance, he illuminates the vast human tragedy behind newspaper headlines about refugees. -- Pankaj Mishra Humane and illuminating, Lights in the Distance is a vital examination of what the new era of border control and deportations really means, what it costs, and who pays the price. -- Olivia Laing By treating his subjects as fully conscious individuals rather than as a mass of victims without agency (often the flip side of the perception of the refugee as alien threat), Trilling brings human detail - individuality - into focus. * Times Literary Supplement * Subtle but effective . . . such a powerful book. In the midst of an escalating crisis, Trilling manages to keep his lens focused tightly on the people who are most intimately affected by the geopolitical catastrophe taking place around them. * Irish Times * Compelling . . . the author's mastery of the details of his subject shines through. * Financial Times * This powerful study looks behind the statistics and political slogans to reveal the human face of the refugee crisis. * Guardian * Brilliantly researched and written . . . Trilling [brings] his reader as close as possible to the actual circumstances of those who have found their way to Calais, or to Catania in Sicily or to London or to Athens, only to find themselves condemned to occupy space, rather than live. * Observer * [Lights in the Distance] calmly portrays the reality of life for people trying to enter a Europe that largely doesn't want them . . . If knowledge is the foundation of action, then [Trilling] has done us a great service by turning masses and numbers into people whom we like, who we can see are like us. * New Statesman *
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