Fires in the Dark Hardcover – 6 May 2003
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
A compelling story. I am very glad to have discovered a new author.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Disturbing insight into the plight of traveling families during world war twoPublished 3 months ago by Victoria Simmons
I enjoyed the book but felt it ran out of momentum towards the endPublished 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
A really interesting story of World War Two; the ethnic cleansing of the gypsies. Only ruined slightly by he poor kindle transcript. Read morePublished 6 months ago by ali cat
A very interesting book. The author has researched Romany life and the time period in which the novel is set. An enjoyable read.Published 13 months ago by DDWatson