The Optician of Lampedusa: sales raise £55,000 for Oxfam’s Refugee Crisis Appeal

Penguin Press and Waterstones have raised over £55,000 for Oxfam’s Refugee Crisis Appeal by donating £5 from the sale of each copy sold in November of the Waterstones non-fiction book of the month, The Optician of Lampedusa. Penguin Press matched their response by donating their profits too. The book, about the rescue of refugees, was written by the BBC journalist Emma Jane Kirby.

Here’s the response from Oxfam GB CEO Mark Goldring:

“Thank you to all of those who helped raise over £55,000 for Oxfam’s Refugee Crisis Appeal by purchasing The Optician of Lampedusa, the Waterstones Book of the Month for November. This harrowing and poignant tale of one man’s very personal encounter with refugees shines a light on this ongoing crisis. More than 65 million people are currently forced to flee their homes by conflict, violence, natural disaster or extreme poverty – more than at any time since the Second World War.

In Italy, where the book is set, Oxfam is providing accommodation, clothes, shoes and food. We are also on the ground offering legal and administrative support for people to submit asylum claims and access health and social services – as well as protection and guardianship for unaccompanied children.

With the help of supporters like Penguin and Waterstones, who have so generously donated proceeds from sales of The Optician of Lampedusa this November, we are able to help more people in the greatest need. A big thank you to everyone who played a part in making this happen.”

Josephine Greywoode, Commissioning Editor, said: “The optician asks himself ‘how do I save them all?’ and it’s a question that resonates deeply in the face of such an immense, ongoing tragedy. Thanks to this remarkable book – and the care, creativity and determination of all involved in its publication – we have made a substantial contribution to the lives of many survivors. I’m absolutely thrilled and I hope you are too.”

James Daunt, Waterstones’ Managing Director, said: “To recommend to readers such a powerful and moving book feels, for us booksellers, especially important. We are particularly proud to do so with The Optician of Lampedusa knowing that we are not just recommending an exceptional title, but also in the process helping Oxfam’s important work with refugees.”

Author and BBC Correspondent, Emma Jane Kirby, said: “When the Optician of Lampedusa first told me his story, I was haunted by it and for several nights afterwards I dreamt that it was me in his boat, scrabbling and snatching at the dark and oily shadows, slipping on the wheel house roof as I scoured the waves. I hope readers will enjoy casting off with this ordinary man as he sets out to sea with friends on a glorious late summer cruise, but when the seagulls start mewling, I hope readers will choose to stay on board with the optician and will help him steer his boat towards a brutal reality that none of us want to see.”

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