Allen & Unwin, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
“After he had finished drowning, his body sank slowly to the bottom, where the fish were waiting.”
This is the introductory text, indeed the only text in this new book by Armin Greder, the master at honing in on the heart of an issue and then using his brilliant artwork to express the story using a monochromatic palette, line and detail which really doesn’t need words.
In 2017 alone, it was estimated that more than 2000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea making the treacherous crossing from North Africa to Europe and Greder has explored the why and how of this in his iconic way which has a master twist of irony in it. It is a macabre, almost grotesque ‘life cycle’ that is enriched by the absence of text because the reader is forced to examine the pictures closely to create the story for themselves.
The story has its own story (as the best ones do) and this is explained in the afterword by Alessandro Leogrande and there is also a ‘footnote” as part of the blurb from Riccardo Noury, a spokesperson for Amnesty International Italy.
As Australia debates the ball-tampering incident within Cricket Australia and many demand that such things are put into the perspective of things that really matter, the question is asked – how long will we remain silent witnesses?
This is a picture book for older readers, one that raises more issues and questions than it answers and one that is a must-have in the collection of secondary libraries, or any school with a significant refugee population.