Diamonds by Armin Greder

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Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760877040.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Greder confronts his audience with the truth behind the diamonds people wear, showing the levels of cruelty and greed which umbrella the industry. From the slave conditions in which men, women and children in Africa dig the gems from the earth working in squalid mines unrestricted by any safety concerns, to those above ground who deal with the diamonds, passing them from hand to hand, trading guns and money, funding religious discord, civil war and unrest, supporting wealthy men to amass more, the diamonds eventually reach the manufacturing jewellers where they are cut and polished, set and sold to equally wealthy men for their wives and sweethearts.
Greder presents his powerful and questioning work through a young girl, Carolina, who innocently asks her mother about the diamonds she is wearing as she prepares to go out for the evening.
Greder wonderfully connects the girl's question about the people working in the mines to her nanny, Amina, also from Africa, and the girl has a nightmare, trailing Amina through the night to the mines where she digs the gems from the earth. Greder distils the wider story of diamond mining to a particular person, Amina, driving the reading audience to feel compassion with this person, seeing her as emblematic for a whole group of exploited people.
The link from Amina to the underground workers passes over several pages as we see their endless toil, digging for the people who control them. The faces above ground are more specific, detailed, hard and cruel as they pass the gems from one person to another, eventually ending up with suited businessmen, hungrily assessing what they have in their hands.
This book is a powerful parable of the corruption that exists, further dividing and undermining any push for equality and justice, the pursuit of wealth by the few being the main driver behind the search for diamonds.
Afterwords by journalist, Francesco Baille and Riccardo Noury from Amnesty International in Italy, set the scene and add more factual context to this already emotionally charged book.
Greder's illustrative technique is distinctive reflecting the chasm that exists between miner and buyer, using his charcoal and pastels to perfection, stressing the disparity between rich and poor, haves and have nots. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes: Inequality, Diamonds, Exploitation, Corruption, Civil war
Fran Knight