An account of the migrant crisis across North Africa, in a groundbreaking work of investigative journalism. With unprecedented access to people currently inside Libyan detention centers, Hayden's book is based on interviews with hundreds of refugees and migrants who tried to reach Europe and found themselves stuck in Libya once the EU started funding interceptions in 2017.
[A] devastating, moving, and damning account ... This is a brilliant, layered testament to the circle of hell where vulnerable migrants find themselves trapped. Hayden never flinches in documenting human nature at its worst ... She builds the story around the plight of migrants, placing their unfiltered voices at its centre, adeptly threading their emotions through the sharp needle of her reporting ... My Fourth Time, We Drowned will leave you with little doubt that the system addressing the migrant crisis is not fit for purpose. We need a new discussion and approach to this preventable humanitarian cataclysm. Hayden’s book enriches that debate.
While the migrant trail takes Hayden as far as Liberia and Rwanda, her book is not, chiefly, a compilation of field dispatches. Her most startling reporting on this most global of subjects is done from her London flat. And yet Hayden’s account is no less immediate or distressing for her physical remoteness. It is indeed that very remoteness that affords her such intimate access to her subjects, most of whom know her only as a Twitter profile picture ... Hayden is scathing about agencies established, in principle, to aid refugees on the ground ... The book’s accumulation of abuses and neglect and pleading voices builds to a dizzying cacophony. No cry of pain is extraneous. Reading it can feel like being beseeched by a desperate crowd, but My Fourth Time, We Drowned is journalism of the most urgent kind.
Despite her tireless courage, Hayden does not preach, and is deeply self-reflective about her reporting ... She gives voice to individuals without ever losing sight of the larger picture. People ask her how she can deal with such traumatic work and she 'can’t help feeling that this question is another way for people to avoid engaging with the bigger issue'.