At the Los Angeles Review of Books, celebrated Croatian novelist Dubravka Ugrešić reflects on what she calls “invisible Europe,” the teeming population of internal migrants who demonstrate that Europe has always been a place of border-crossing and cultural mixing. She profiles a number of these migrants, some of whom have come from the poorer countries of Europe to the richer ones in search of works, and others who have made the opposite journey in search of escape and adventure. Ugrešić suggests that those who seek to restrict migration in order to “save Europe” don’t understand what Europe is. Here’s an excerpt:
Europa was, herself, a migrant; according to one mythical version she was the daughter of a Phoenician king, born in the city of Tyre in what is Lebanon today, and astride a bull — her lover, Zeus — she reached the shores of Europe. Reaching the other shore astride a bull is every bit as spectacular as riding across the last dozen miles of ice on a child’s bike.
Refugees and migrants serve as a mirror, a test, a challenge, a summons to confront our values. The events, some of them visible, others less so, which have followed since the “migrant crisis” was identified, are being added to the crossword puzzle. The people fleeing their countries are the beginning and end, the cause and effect, they are the deck of cards from which the near future of the world will be read. And whoever knows how to read these cards will know what lies ahead for us.
Image of Dubravka Ugrešić via World Literature Today.