Author: Jachym Topol
Translator: Marek Tomin
Original language: Czech
Published by: Portobello Books, 2014
One night in 1968, on the eve of the Soviet invasion, 13 year-old Ondra and his younger brother Kamil are bundled into a coach bound for their father's birthplace, a mountainous, forested village in northern Bohemia. But when they arrive it becomes clear that this escape promises its own perils, and the boys find themselves stranded in a rural community riven with petty suspicion and stained by prejudice, a borderland over which fleeing peoples, victims of genocide, and trigger-happy armies regularly tramp. Growing up in this dark, chaotic landscape, the two boys struggle to make a home for themselves, until a series of unexplained deaths push them to make bold decisions to ensure their survival.
‘A delightfully haunting work... [It] revels in the strangeness of life and language. The book's poetry and ghostly voices bring to mind Under Milk Wood... Bold and brilliant’ Jethro Soutar