You can’t ask for asylum in another country just because your mother drives you nuts, so when 19-year-old Zuzana flees from Czechoslovakia to England in 1972, she quotes political reasons.
Zuzana’s mother Magda is a Holocaust survivor, and according to her daughter unbearable. Maybe a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder can’t be a good mother.
In England, Zuzana is happy with her husband Harry, a second-generation Afro-Caribbean doctor, and their son Adam.
Life is good, apart from when her mother comes to visit.
In 2003 Magda dies, and after initial relief, her daughter feels an overwhelming guilt.
Adam is confused about his identity.
What am I? Black? White? British? Czech? Jewish?
He is all of that. His ancestors survived slavery, concentration camps, coped with racism, fled communism.
The book is about three generations of a diverse family. It’s about antisemitism, racism, emigration, love. And about what it is like to have a difficult mother or a difficult daughter – it depends on who is telling the story.
The question in the name of the novel “Why didn’t they leave?” means “Why didn’t they emigrate in 1938 when they had a chance and when it was obvious that the Nazis were coming?“
You will find out in the book, I don’t want to add spoilers.
The book is being published in September 2021 by Book Guild https://www.bookguild.co.uk/ .
I used some real family stories and fictionalised them. The characters are not real, some of the stories are. The least beliavable ones. Makes me think of that quote by Tom Clancy: “The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense“.
The above photo is my family in 1936. Many of them never came back from the camps. I dedicate my book to them.