A moving fable about luck, persistence, and hope, grounded in the often tragic reality of modern-day immigration, by the winner of the 2004 Prix Goncort. Captain Salvatore Piracci has sailed along the Italian coast for the last twenty years, intercepting boats with clandestine African immigrants who have risked everything in the hope of reaching the new Eldorado. But when Piracci is confronted by a woman haunted by the death of her son, killed during an illegal crossing, he is forced to question the validity of his border-patrolling mission. Meanwhile, two brothers prepare to leave Sudan and make the dangerous passage to Europe. Separated mid-voyage, Suleiman, the youngest, vows to make it to the promised land and find the means to reunite with his ailing elder brother. At a time when debates over immigration and national identity dominate headlines in the United States and Europe, best-selling author Laurent Gaudé offers a unique portrait of the individuals who compromise their dreams and endanger their lives in search of a better existence.