Skip to main content
One boat, one group, one family: a universal story

When the Water Breaks

Chris De Stoop

This is the true story of a fisherman and his daughter, who fled their home country Vietnam some time ago. Hung crossed the ocean in his small fishing vessel to start a new life in a village behind a high sea wall. Quyen opened a successful restaurant, but is now struggling with an identity crisis.

This is also the story of dozens of their travel companions, who spent a long time bobbing about on the water. A small community of people whose lives are linked, brought together at a decisive moment. Not everybody survived. Some ended up feeling lost, while others became doctors, engineers, bankers or entrepreneurs.

De Stoop is a great craftsman of this beautiful genre in which literature and journalism meet.
De Groene Amsterdammer

A universal, moving story about the profound disruption brought about by migration, zooming in on one boat, one group, one family. A story of sacrifice, deceit, struggle, fear, love and homesickness, told in an engaging way by Chris de Stoop, who has been following the family for years and also spoke to dozens of their travel companions.

Today we are seeing the biggest wave of refugees since the Second World War. In these turbulent times, Chris De Stoop does a much better job of explaining the impact of migration on human lives than the often harsh debates on the topic. Narrative non-fiction at its best.

A detailed life story noted down in soft ink