Logo: Nazi death camp
Image: Collage used for front and back cover
How and why the book was written -
starting as a private family memoir and ending as a novel available to the public
The book can be bought from online retailers like Amazon (you will need to enter my name or the ISBN into Amazon's book search field) or direct from my storefront with the US publisher, Lulu
To its inmates the refugee camp in England is a like an island in a foreign sea: they may be united by their lack of English and their war memories, but there is much to divide them. Some of the adults have numbers tattooed on their arms. A few of the camp inmates turn out to be former Waffen SS. Menace pervades the post-war atmosphere of relief and new beginnings. Kids speak English at school but revert to other languages at home, learning about distant traditions in their own special classes whilst wondering why only some versions of the past are permitted.
Mindful of modern parallels, with hatred and suspicion of outsiders fanned by certain media and some politicians, Henry Pavlovich, son of war refugees, looks at the 20th century through the eyes of a boy growing up in such a camp and then as an adult investigating his parents background. In his novel, Worlds Apart, he explores identity and memory through first-hand accounts of colonial life, foreign occupation, labour camps in the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and life in a UK refugee camp where not everyone is what he seems to be.
Friends and work colleagues heard me relate many of these accounts when I was writing them for my family and I was told they deserved a wider audience, says Henry Pavlovich. They are certainly relevant today. When I was young I often heard Go back to your own country! or a pithier local equivalent directed at those who spoke foreign, who looked different or who ate funny food. Children of immigrants are often keen to find out more about their exotic backgrounds, and their suspicions are aroused if parents prevaricate or hide family photographs. It is such circumstances that drive the character in my novel, David, to investigate...
The author was Director and Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Linguists in London until autumn 2005. For many years before that he held various news-gathering posts at the BBC. A linguist who has also written on language matters, he has spent a lifetime with people of different nationalities. He lives near Oxford, is married and has two adult sons.
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