Upheaval: The Refugee Trek through Europe
July 2017, Polity
By foot, in buses, prison vans and trains, a steady stream of refugees traveled from the Greek island of Lesbos into Europe. In the autumn of 2015, award-winning writer Navid Kermani decided to accompany them on the "Balkan route." In this perceptive account from the front line of the "refugee crisis," Kermani shows how a seemingly distant world in which war and conflict rage has suddenly collided with our own. Kermani describes the situation on the Turkish west coast where thousands of refugees live in the most desperate conditions, waiting to take the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Then, on Lesbos, he observes the culture shock amongst those who have survived the ordeal by sea. He speaks to aid workers and politicians, but most importantly of all to the refugees themselves, asking those who have come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere what has driven them to risk everything and embark on the long and treacherous journey to Europe.
With great sensitivity Kermani reveals, often through small details, the cultural and political upheaval that has caused people to uproot their lives, and at the same time shining a light on Europe's inadequate and at times openly hostile response to the refugees. Interspersed with powerful images by the acclaimed photographer Moises Saman, Upheaval is a much-needed human account of a crisis we cannot ignore.
"Kermani once more shows his brilliance as a reporter."
"The real significance of this reportage lies in the many questions Kermani poses to the reader, in the face of the refugee crisis and its political consequences, as well as rampant levels of hate and fearquestions that cannot remain unanswered."
"Among the most thoughtful intellectual voices in Germany today."
The New York Review of Books
"The moral power behind Kermani's extraordinary achievements is scarcely paralleled among all the great figures of German literature."
"Kermani doesn't conceal a thing. He records everything that he sees and hears. But he also says what he thinks of it all...masterful."
"Does Kermani just tell the nice stories? No, he is too good for that. He shows empathy towards the refugees, but also looks more closely to reveal the complex reasons for their flight."
"In Upheaval, Navid Kermani shows what a serious public discussion of migration could look like."
"Kermani has done a great job of not only capturing something of what the refugees are experiencing as they take the last stage of their journey to what they hope will be a new world, but the mood of the people whose hands they pass through. He shines a light in the dark spaces of our current world and exposes the dirty and shameful way we treat our fellow human beings."