cover image Tears of Salt: A Doctor’s Story

Tears of Salt: A Doctor’s Story

Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta, trans. from the Italian by Chenxin Jiang. Norton, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-65128-7

In this moving account of attending to victims of war, Italian physician Bartolo makes an impassioned plea for more public awareness of and effective humanitarian solutions for refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Practicing on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, Bartolo compares his life to those of the refugee men, women, and children who arrive on the island by boat, many of whom he treats (his clinic is the only one on the island). Bartolo, writing with Italian journalist Tilotta, doesn’t shy away from discussing the toughest of situations and gives voice to the many nameless refugees who, in their native countries, were victims of racism, rape, sex trafficking, illegal organ harvesting, and sexual dismemberment; he also tells the stories of many others, whose bodies were found in boat holds or floating off shore. Bartolo writes: “You can wear all the protective gear you like, but you cannot protect your soul. This is war.” Equating the refugee crisis with the Holocaust, he has written a powerful condemnation of public inertia to foreign tragedies that brings home a truly arresting “chronicle of suffering.” (Jan)