Brooklyn author Colm Tóibín has told an audience at New York’s United Nations bookshop that “every migrant has a story to tell.”
In his novel, which has bounced back into book charts in the UK, the USA and Ireland, Eilis Lacey – a classic Irish emigrant of the 1950s- travels from her home in Co Wexford to New York to work in a smart clothing store. She lives in a boarding house with a number of other girls, before marriage to an American-Italian man.
Making reference to the United States, the Wexford author declared: “we need to rethink what they (migrants) bring to the new country.”
His remarks were made in light of the intense debate currently taking place in the United States over whether the country should continue to welcome migrant workers from Mexico or refugees from Syria.
Tóibín said that every person has come from ‘somewhere else at some point.’ “The whole idea of us being fixed and privileged and life being good for us - and that is something that we should protect - that seems to me fundamentally wrong and a fundamental failure of imagination,” he declared.
“It's important to have image of migrants as different from ”desperate” faces”, Tóibín told the audience at the bookshop. “If countries in Europe stop thinking about themselves and start thinking of the migrants as people, we could start to see change,” he added.