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Fires in the Dark Hardcover – 6 May 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition / First Impression edition (6 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743220870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743220873
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 903,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

New Statesman Amanda Craig 'Louise Doughty's Fires in the Dark is a harrowing and wholly absorbing account of the gypsy Holocaust, and how one man survives it' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Louise Doughty is a journalist and broadcaster. In 1990, she was the recipient of an Ian St James Award for a short story and a Radio Times Drama Award for her first play, MAYBE ME, both of which received widespread critical acclaim. She is the author of CRAZY PAVING, DANCE WITH ME and HONEYDEW and three plays for radio. She lives in London, N7.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer HALL OF FAME on 30 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
As well as murdering 6 million Jews, Hitler did his best to exterminate the Gypsies. This is the story of how just one escaped, Yenko, from a copper-working Romany tribe, thanks to the sacrifice made by his heroic mother, and his own luck and intelligence. His birth, childhood and journey into manhood against the background of the Nazi rise to power make history live. Doughty is herself part-Romany, and writes with real passion and insight as well as what looks like a lot of research. Her characters break your heart.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book, moving and passionate. The characters are real and touchable. The story is full of the kind of true detail that's completely absorbing. It tells the story of a Romani family and how their lives are destroyed by the Nazi's. Its a tough subject, but this book is really worth it. It doesn't shy away from the realities, but neither does it dwell unnecessarily on the worst of it. The places and major events are based on fact. So I learned a lot, as well as being totally gripped by a brilliant story. Buy this book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Fires in the dark" by Louise Doughty

I enjoyed this author's "Stone cradle", a story of Romani in the United Kingdom, so much that I determined to read others if I could find them.

This is the one I found, dealing with the lives of East European Romani from 1927 to 1945.You will be aware of what happened in Europe over that period.

Emil, whose secret name is Yenko, is one of the main protagonists. We follow him while his group is on their travels, in winter settlements, cherry harvesting and other things, watching as life and travel become much more difficult for them as a result of increasing government burocracy, new travel papers etc, all of this being aimed at making it easier to keep track of the Romani and to control them.

We read of invasions, battles, conquest by the Nazi armies, and eventual round-ups of the Romani groups, followed by transportation to concentration camps.

Emil escapes, following urging by his mother, and makes his way to Prague where he lives out the war, working on the black market as the only method available to him to keep safe and make a living. Near the end of the war he goes back to the camp to see if any of his family have survived.

This is a brief summary of a harrowing, and yet hopeful, story. There is plenty of incident, personality clash, humour and horror. I was surprised to learn that, per head of population, more Romani died under the Nazis than Jews, horrifying as the Jewish experience was.

I recommend that you read this book. No matter how good a person you are, I think you will be an uplifted and even better person as a result.
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Format: Hardcover
Up to now, Louise Doughty has written fairly small scale domestic dramas, entertaining but limited in their scope. With this book she stakes a claim as a serious novelist tackling the biggest issues and succeeds brilliantly. The history of a gypsy family in eastern europe during the second world war can only be a tragic story. Doughty turns an unflinching eye on the worst that humans can do to each other, with an anger that is barely suppressed, but without resorting to simplistic value judgements. The story is dark and the misery is piled up until you wish for some joy to lighten the mood, but Doughty builds your interest in her characters so that you can't stop reading.
The subject matter of the book is likely to put off a lot of people. Sadly, anti-gypsy prejudice is alive and well, from Romania to Norfolk. This matters to Doughty and she has devoted energy and passion into this book. Don't be put off. Read this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Apple Tree Yard and was sorely disappointed with this book. Uninteresting characters, long drawn out story that I couldn't engage with. I wasn't expecting a carbon copy of Apple Tree Yard but I was expecting a good read. This is the second book from this author that has hugely disappointed me so no more for me
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By A Customer on 5 Jun. 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had only the vaguest idea of the gypsy Holocaust, so found this a fascinating and very moving story. It begins with the struggles of Anna, a coppersmith Romany, to give birth to her son Yenko and ends with Yenko as the sole survivor of his tribe marrying a fellow-Romany orphan girl whom he met in a concentration camp. In between have come acts of cruelty and compassion. including Yenko's escape from the camp and murder of two elderly people in order to assume "gadjin" identity. It has you rooting for the whole tribe while knowing they are doomed by prejudice on both sides.
A compelling story. I am very glad to have discovered a new author.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has previously read Doughty's elegant comedies will be very surprised by this, a historical novel apparently based on her own family history. Fires in the Dark follows the fortunes or Yenko, a Romany boy born on a hot summer's day, through the darkness and suffering of the 1930s depression and Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, the concentration camps and th Prague uprising of 1945. A bold, gripping story it is most impressive in marrying the sweep of history to small details of gypsy life.
Initially, it is Anna, Yenko's mother, who dominates the novel and Yenko (who has to change identitites to stay alive after escaping the camp) is never as vivid a character. Anna is full of strength and energy, and the way she keeps her son alive by begging with him, and sacrifices herself to ensure his escape is an extraordinary piece of writing. I loved the way we see ourselves, "gadjos" through gypsy eyes, seeing how and why they think us dirty, ugly etc. Their torment through illness, starvation, persecution and imprisonment is described with great compassion, and one feels this is a story that needed to be told because the virtual eradication of the gypsies in many parts of central Europe is forgotten beneath the weight of Jeiwsh suffering. One of the many horrors in the concentration camp is in fact the hatred of Jews, who are considered vermin even below the gypsies; when they are taken off to Auschwitz it is believed they are going to a sanatorum.
Yenko survives partly because a bullying guard,Cacko, takes a fancy to him, and partly because he is prepared to do terrible things to the gadjos once he escapes. I could have done with more of this, because the parts describing his brutalisation are the best. Even if these horrors have been described by Primo Levi etc.
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