Notes on a Shipwreck

Original title: Appunti per un naufragio

Author: Enia, Davide

Publication Date:

May 2017



Original language and publisher

Italian | Sellerio Editore



Notes on a Shipwreck

Original title: Appunti per un naufragio

Author: Enia, Davide

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Portuguese and Nordic rights.
  • Rights sold: France (Albin Michel), USA (Other Press, WEL), Greece (Patakis), Germany (Wallstein), Spain (Minuscula)
  • French translation available. English translation available soon


A father and son watch history unfold in front of their eyes in the sea off Lampedusa. Appunti per un naufragio tells the story of what is happening in the Mediterranean – the crossings, rescues, landings and drownings – and describes the relationship between my father and me and the illness of my uncle, his brother.

In this autobiographical novel set on Lampedusa, Davide Enia tells the stories of several shipwrecks. The first is that of the people who, ploughing through the surface of death, cross the Mediterranean sea in unimaginable conditions. Counterposed to this is the story of the people who rescue them, on the borders of an epoch and a continent. In the middle is the author himself and his relationship with his father, and his discovery of what really happens out at sea and on land, and the shipwreck of words, which sink deep down in an attempt to express the complexity of the present.

Starting from a traumatic experience – his own involvement in the inhuman tragedy of the crossings – Enia gives a voice to the volunteers, his childhood friends, and the young people who, incredibly, make it to the island. He lays bare the emotional consequences of this moving and disturbing situation, especially in his relationship with his father, a recently retired doctor, who agrees to accompany him on his journey. Their combining to describe people’s collective distress and their private distress at his uncle’s illness forges a new, unprecedented dialogue, which reinvents a relationship and replaces the silence of the past with words.

‘I’ve been going to Lampedusa for years. I’ve seen thousands of people disembark, met the medical staff and coast guards, eaten in local people’s homes, gone out in a boat with fishermen, listened to young people who survived the crossing and spoken to first-hand witnesses.’

Appunti per un naufragio tells the true story of various people who share a first-hand experience of life’s fragility, a story which, like a revelation, demands a rewriting of their own lives and drives each of them towards a new landing, listening and discovery of other people.