Haunted by the past: Winterberg’s Last Journey, by Jaroslav Rudis, reviewed

Jaroslav Rudis’s latest novel follows the 99-year-old Wenzel Winterberg, a Sudetenland German, and his middle-aged Czech carer, Jan Kraus, on what is a quirky European take on the buddy road-trip story. Marx claimed that ‘men make their own history’, but do so under the burden of the past, with the weight of dead generations upon them. The tragedy soon to become a farce begins, according to Winterberg, at the site of the Battle of Königgrätz, with the old man proclaiming: ‘The Battle of Königgrätz runs through my heart.’ He then rambles on about its ‘half a million ghosts’, their roles and where they lie now, before blaming the battle for

The plight of the evacuee: Asylum Road, by Olivia Sudjic, reviewed

Olivia Sudjic’s second novel, Asylum Road, is a smart and sensitively layered story that’s told through niggling memories, unspoken thoughts, white space. The past interrupts the present, which in turn tugs at the future. It begins and ends in a car — a couple ‘side by side, in motion with a change of view’ – and all the while the reader too is in a state of flux, unsettled. That’s a state Sudjic’s protagonist, Anya, is familiar with. Along with other unaccompanied children, she was evacuated from Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. Sent to live with her aunt in Glasgow, she’s been searching for a sense of belonging ever since.