I knew that Devastation Road was always going to be a difficult book to read, but after reading the Dynamite Room and seeing a lot of glowing reviews I decided to go ahead and try and put aside any emotional thoughts.
It takes place in Czechoslovakia just at the end of the war. Owen wakes up in a field. His clothes don’t fit him and he has no recollection of why he is there or what year it is. He starts walking, trying not to be affected by the tragedy that he sees along the way. Over the course of his journey he is joined by Janek, a Czech teenager and Irena a young Polish Jew who has a baby. They meet many others on their journey. All who are hoping to get somewhere, anywhere where they can attempt to rebuild their lives.
As the journey progresses more is revealed about Owen, Janek and Irena and why they are in the situation that they are in. Janek, at times has a lot of anger and loses his temper often. Much of this is isn’t in English. Some you can work out but some you can’t, but this is what it would have been like for Owen and it worked well staying untranslated.
The last third of the novel was the most upsetting. Tales that were told by characters who were essential but only minor were very moving.
Devastation Road is easily one of the best books I have read, it will definitely be one of my top reads of 2015.
My Grandfather was a prisoner of war in XXb which was in Marienburg in Prussia. One of the last entries in his diary that he kept says
On March into Germany 10-1-45 to 26-4-45. Just one of many hundreds of refugees walking across Europe at this time.