Welcome to the Free Zone
Author: Nathalie and Ladislas Gara, translation and introduction by Bill Reed (Christ's 1968)
Publisher: Hesperus Press
Welcome to the Free Zone is a vivid and dark humoured novel based on the true story of Nathalie and Ladislas Gara, Jews fleeing Nazi occupation during the Second World War, translated from the original French (St Boniface et ses Juifs). In 1942, several Jewish families have washed up in the sleepy French town of Saint-Boniface in the Ardeche. Lodged in guest houses and rented farmhouses, they are attempting to carve out new lives for themselves among the folded hills and isolated farmsteads. Battling against the bureaucracy and paperwork of Vichy-France and the spectre of the Germans closing in on the Free Zone, the families struggle to get used to the local ways, just as the locals struggle to accept them. From the non-existent toilets and lack of electricity to black market dealings and the self-serving, sadistic gendarme, life in Saint-Boniface is challenging and spirited. Nathalie and Ladislas Gara, take on the role of the Veres family in the book. Originally published in 1946 this new translation will revive this extraordinary tale.