(1973 – )
Guy Saville was born in 1973. He has lived in South America and North Africa. The Afrika Reich, published by Hodder & Stoughton on 17th February 2011, was his first novel.
The Madagaskar Plan
A novel by Guy Saville
1953. Britain and her Empire are diminished. Nazi Germany controls Europe and a vast African territory. There has been no Holocaust. Instead, the Jews have been exiled to Madagaskar, a tropical ghetto ruled by the SS.
Returning home after a disastrous mission to Africa, ex-mercenary Burton Cole finds his lover has disappeared. Desperate to discover her, he is drawn into a conspiracy that will lead him back to the Dark Continent.
Meanwhile Walter Hochburg, Nazi Governor of Kongo, has turned his attention to Madagaskar. Among the prisoners are scientists who could develop him a weapon of unimaginable power.
But Hochburg is not the only one interested in Madagaskar. The British plan to destroy its naval base to bring America into a war against the Reich. They have found the ideal man for the task: Reuben Salois, the only Jew to have escaped the ghetto. The only one brave, or foolhardy, enough to return.
These three men will converge on Madagaskar. The fate of the world is in their hands…
Drawing on the Nazis’ original plans for the Jews, Guy Saville has meticulously imagined a world-that-nearly-was to tell an epic tale of love, revenge and survival.
This book is set immediately following the events of Afrika Reich, Burton Cole has finally made his way back home after the events in Africa. His revenge against Hochburg unfulfilled, but his goal clear, to find Madeleine and his child, to put Africa and the losses behind him. But life isn’t that fair and isn’t that kind to Burton. Madeleine’s husband isn’t who she thinks he is, and he isn’t as blind to their relationship as either Burton or Madeleine had hoped.
Burton is drawn by life and fate back to Africa, worse than the Kongo ever was he must go to its darkest part, Madagascar, an island converted to a concentration camp to hold the Jews of the world, and to slowly dispose of them away from the eyes or the world. It’s a race for survival and revenge, set against a backdrop of horror and personal darkness.
Its been 4 years since the last book from Guy Saville, yet the wait has been well worth it. given the richness of the narrative and descriptive, clearly a lot of time and passion has gone into the crafting of each and every line in the book. It’s a tired description but still very apt, to say that the characters in this book come alive on each and every page, but more than that. As the reader you go through the emotional turmoil at every stage, you can at times sympathise with the morally bankrupt Hochburg and other Nazis, who are products of their system and environment, their norm and normality is brutality.
The view of what could have happened to the jewish nation is devastating, and more so when it’s coupled with the global indifference, and political manoeuvre’s they are subjects too. This ease and simplicity of a simple change, like the defeat of Dunkirk, changing the leadership and the direction of the whole war. The scrabbling for existence and the scraps of the British empire, the isolationist Americans never coming into the war. It’s all too plausible, and shows just how much we owe that wartime generation.
All of this is in the book, but it’s there in the emotion and the description and the vastness of the German empire, never shoved in the readers face, never glorifying, always daunting and at times horrifying for its plain reality of this alternate world.
Sometimes it takes a stark and stunning reminder of what could have been to remind us how lucky we are.
Truly the best book i have read this year so far.
huge congratulations to Guy Saville.
Guy, fantastic to interview you again, it’s been a little gap between Book 1 and 2, but as per my review, it’s a gap that’s been well worth it. The book is a stunning achievement.
Great to be back here at Parmenion, and thanks for your kind words about my new book. It makes all the effort worthwhile.
This series, and this book especially, is a really emotive subject, what led you to it?
The initial inspiration came from arguably the most famous Nazis-win-the-war novel of them all: The Man in The High Castle by Philip K Dick (recently adapted for Amazon TV by Ridley Scott). In the book there is a throwaway line about ‘the terrible Nazi experiment in Africa’. Things grew from that single line and eventually conflated with a long-held desire to write an epic adventure story.
You have some amazingly powerful characters in the book, in Burton, Hochburg, Madeleine and many others. Do these people all come from your imagination, or do you base them on real personalities (eg: is Hochburg’s name taken from the corporal at Sobibor)?
Obviously some of the characters – such as Globocnik and Admiral Dommes – are based on real figures from history. The rest of the cast are entirely figments of my imagination, though in the case of Hochburg I was partly inspired by Kurtz from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (one of my favourite novels). Hochburg’s name – which translates roughly as ‘high castle’ – is a nod to Philip K Dick. See above!
Is the series still planned as a trilogy? If so, how goes the planning for the final book?
I planned a trilogy from the start with each book as a standalone story looking at a different aspect of the Nazis’ racial prejudices in Africa. The first part was about the white-on-white colonial clash between the Germans and British; Madagaskar is about the Jews; and the final book will look at Nazi policy towards the native black people of the continent. I had all three books roughly mapped out from the start and certainly know all the key dramatic moments in Book 3 and its ending. However, my publisher only committed to a two book deal. Afrika Reich sold well but I need Madagaskar to repeat that success. So if readers want to see how the trilogy ends, please buy the new book.
In Afrika Reich and also Madagaskar Plan there is a huge depth and richness to the descriptive of the African German Empire, how much of this is built on plans from the Nazi era, and how much is your imagination?
I did a huge amount of research for both books, especially the new one, so I’m pleased to hear you think I’ve succeeded in bringing it to life. Occasionally I’ll make something up for dramatic purposes or have to take an imaginative leap because the historical record is lacking. But I’d say 90% is based on fact, not just in the broad sweep but also the details. To use a couple of obscure examples from the book, all the stuff about the meat-canning industry is in the original ‘Madagascar Projekt’ document. The floor tiles in the Nazis’ huge hotel were indeed intended to be yellow.
So who are you reading now for fun?
I tend to avoid contemporary fiction while I write, for fear of other writers’ styles bleeding into mine. So it’s always a treat when I finish working on a novel as I can read more freely. As I have a lot of friends who are writers, it also means a chance to catch up on their latest books. Recent highlights include: A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, Us by David Nicholls and The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall. I’m currently reading The Night Falling by Katherine Webb.
Finally… the one all writers hate… sell your book in your own words, what sets it apart?
The Madagaskar Plan is set in 1953 and imagines an alternative history where the Nazis have triumphed but there has been no Holocaust. Instead the Jews have been exiled to Madagaskar, a remote island off the coast of East Africa and now a tropical ghetto. Into this world come three men: Burton Cole, an ex-mercenary searching for his lover; Walter Hochburg, the Nazi governor of German Kongo, and Reuben Salois; the only Jew to have escaped the ghetto. Their paths will interweave and finally converge on Madagaskar with the fate of the world in their hands. The book is a detailed evocation of what Madagaskar would have been like for the Jews, as well as an epic tale of love, revenge and survival. I’d certainly buy it!
Many thanks, Guy, and best of luck, this book truly deserves a huge success.
An honour to be here… and I hope you’ll have me back for Book 3.
The Madagaskar Plan (2015)