A mother puts her children into a refrigerator truck and asks, “What else could I do?” A runaway teenager comes of age on the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings. A student leaves his war-ravaged country behind because he doesn’t want to kill. Everyone among the thousands of people who come to Europe in search of asylum each year possesses a unique story. But those stories don’t end as they cross into the West.
In Lights in the Distance, acclaimed journalist Daniel Trilling draws on years of reporting to build a portrait of the refugee crisis as seen through the eyes of the people who experienced it firsthand. As the European Union has grown, so has a tangled and often violent system designed to filter out unwanted migrants. Visiting camps and hostels, sneaking into detention centers, 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 story 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 the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, its declared 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.
“Brilliantly researched and written.”
“Combining forensic enquiry with moral passion, 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, forcing us to confront Europe’s legacy of imperialism and nationalism.”
“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.”
“An incredibly powerful and deeply humane account of the everyday violence imposed by the border. By highlighting the personal stories of those subject to the vagaries of state policies, Trilling movingly illustrates the continuing costs of colonial legacies as well as Europe’s own brand of inclusion—in which capital and the wealthy few move effortlessly, while those viewed as on the outside continue to face harsh controls. This is an essential book for anyone concerned with what both equality and membership must mean today.”
“Meticulously researched and ferociously human, Lights in the Distance is a profound work of journalism, in which Daniel Trilling lays bare the cruel absurdity of the European border regime—and gives voice to the men and women who risk their lives to reach the other side.”
“This 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.”
“In this informative, compassionate book, Trilling encourages readers to see that connection and gain an understanding of what those traveling the arteries of Europe in search of a safer home are going through.”