The Naked Don't Fear the Water

Matthieu Aikins


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Fitzcarraldo Editions
15 February 2022
ISBN: 9781913097851
384 pages

From the publisher

In 2016, a young Afghan driver and translator named Omar makes the heart-wrenching decision to flee his war-torn country, saying goodbye to Laila, the love of his life, without knowing when they might be reunited again. He is one of the millions of refugees who leave their homes that year. Matthieu Aikins, a journalist living in Kabul, decides to follow his friend and goes underground on the refugee trail. Their year-long odyssey across land and sea from Afghanistan to Europe brings them face to face with the people at heart of the migration crisis: smugglers, cops, activists, and the men, women and children fleeing war in search of a better life. Harrowing yet hopeful, The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees is an exceptional debut that brings into sharp focus one of the most contentious issues of our times.

‘This is a book of radical empathy, crossing many borders – not just borders that separate nations, but also borders of form, borders of meaning, and borders of possibility. It is powerful and humane and deserves to find a wide, wandering readership.’
— Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West

‘The most affecting book I have read about the iniquity of the refugee crisis since Exit West. The reporting is totally immersive, without ever losing its clarity, and gives a heartbreaking insight into the lives of normal people taking terrible risks to save themselves.’
— Sam Knight, author of The Premonitions Bureau

‘A riveting and heartrending look at the hidden world of refugees that challenged everything I thought I knew about the consequences of war and globalization. It’s the most important work on the global refugee crisis to date, and a crucial document of these tumultuous times. It will go down as one of the great works of nonfiction literature of our generation.’
— Anand Gopal, author of No Good Men Among the Living

‘This is a gripping, devastating book, and it must have taken great courage and determination to write. The best way to honour this book would be for us all to read it and ask ourselves what we can do for the thousands of unknown and unrecognized people who are treading this terrifying path.’
— Hari Kunzru, author of Red Pill