Beneath the waves: Natalia Yanko’s superb migrant backstory

An immigrant who fled her family as a child has become a best-selling thriller writer.

Natalia Yanko made her feature directorial debut with the 2017 documentary The Whistleblower, winning several prizes including the Oscar of the year for short films. She is the author of the thriller Within, published earlier this year by Arrow. She has just been given a seven-figure deal from publisher Pan Macmillan to work on a book series about the author.

A spokesman for Pan said it was a “exceptional piece of work” by Yanko. “The story of Natalia Yanko’s incredible journey is a profound and important one,” he said. “The stories and thoughts of victims of persecution and trafficking are re-opened and brought to light, with a fresh view from a young woman as her eye turns away from her past.”

According to Pan, Within tells the story of the youngest daughter of a migrant family from Hungary who returns to Budapest with no memory of her family and only the knowledge that her mother has survived the Holocaust. The protagonist’s traumatic journey to discover her past and understand her past includes confronting the sinister force behind the numerous human trafficking networks that plague Hungary.

“A film or a book should be about the experience in one way or another. It’s already been written. I am not writing about myself,” Yanko, 41, told the Guardian. “It is about humanity – there is not an occupation that is worse than another. There are also many ideas. I am optimistic that a film is possible. A book is for you and me and will be for a lot of people. We love the idea that you cannot take everything for granted.”

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