The thrust of this epic novel occurs in the spring of 1945, during an event known in Germany as Die Flucht, or The Flight, when some 12 million Eastern European ethnic-Germans fled their ancestral homes to escape the advancing Soviet Army. ‘The Flight’ tells the story of Ida, a mother who attempts to take her children from their village in East Prussia to the assumed safety of Berlin. Travelling by foot, boat and rail across enemy lines, she quickly discovers that their survival is dependent on her will to save them, and on overriding the silent tragedies they will face during the journey west. Ida’s is a terrifying passage, soaked with a bleak sadness, but her quiet bravery and sorrowful resilience in the face of the depravity of war is captivating. Told with clarity and beauty, in a remarkably understated way, ‘The Flight’ is a captivating novel of authenticity and power, which opens up a chapter of World War II long overlooked.
Reviews of The Flight
‘A stark, moving narrative.’ Daily Telegraph
‘an ambitious project for a first-time novelist, but one that Malessa embarks on with confidence…he chronicles in dark detail an event that remains relatively unheard-of outside Germany.’ Irish Times
‘Rendered in understated prose, this vividly imagined landscape becomes all the more powerful.’ Observer
‘The opening chapters of The Flight are a lyrical evocation of the rural life and culture of this remote region…Recounted in sober, restrained prose, The Flight is unremitting in its depiction of the brutality of war and conquest. But there is something uplifting in the way Ida endures her terrifying journey with quiet courage, determined to protect her children at all costs.’ Independent