Fires in the Dark
First published by Simon & Schuster UK in 2003.
American edition published by HarperCollins US
Also published in Turkey and the Czech Republic .
Fires in the Dark is the first of Louise Doughty’s novels about the history of the Romany people and her own family ancestry (followed by Stone Cradle in 2006). Set in Central Europe during the Second World War, it is about a boy from a group of nomadic Kalderash Roma. Born in a barn in rural Bohemia in 1927, he grows up during the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism, is interned in a camp and escapes to take part in the Prague Uprising of May 1945. Fires in the Dark won a Writers’ Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain and was published to international critical acclaim.
‘The difficulty of imaginative absorption into the world of the Roma is a huge challenge which Louise Doughty’s new novel surmounts with immense warmth and skill the characters are absorbing individuals, and the reconstruction of Roma life has a loving and compelling vitality this journey into hell is scarcely bearable, yet made compelling reading by the humanity which it reveals History can give us the facts; a novel such as this has the emotive power to restore dignity to those who were so appallingly robbed of it. I hope this book gets widely translated. It delivers inner truth in a knock-out blow, as only art can.’
‘Gripping and intense Fires in the Dark is a distinguished work of fiction, a gut-wrenching story of people under duress and how they cope and persevere in the face of extraordinary circumstances.’
‘One would be hard-pressed to find a book in any genre so expansive and capacious detailing the Roma, or Gypsy, experience during the Second World War as Fires in the Dark. The book, a blend of historical detail and finely tuned fiction adds to the knowledge about this precarious but rich culture and people.’
‘Louise Doughty’s fine new novel marks a major shift, a book overflowing with newfound confidence and commitment. Without patronising her characters, Doughty builds up a sympathetic momentum which causes the horrors of the Holocaust to crash over the reader in a bitterly personal way.’
‘Louise Doughty’s attempt to relate the plight of the Roma in a novel is ambitious, but ultimately compelling. Assumptions and inhibitions bind each of us all too tightly into our own world, but fiction can release us into another. Fires in the Dark does just this.’
‘Louise Doughty has made an ambitious departure she has produced an epic there’s no shortage of drama in this absorbing, shocking and ultimately hopeful novel.’
Mail on Sunday
‘Fires in the Dark is memorable and gripping. I have seldom before read sentences that evoke so well the beauty of the landscape or the pain of hunger and cold. Doughty is good on the heaviness of hatred and the guilt of the traumatised survivor. I liked, too, her understanding of how chance can shape our lives.’
‘Louise Doughty is a fine writer with Gypsy ancestry and her fourth novel is the first of a projected series in which she explores the world of European Gypsies: it is a big, original book with a fascinating perspective on these other Europeans.’
‘Fires in the Dark is compulsively readable. Steadiness of faithful recounting, accompanied by a careful tenderness and humour, opens out for its readers a unique perpsective. Have we had too many fictions about the Holocaust? Perhaps, but we have never read anything like this¦ its triumph is the quiet authority of its telling, an unblinking serenity of gaze that charts without countenancing the absurdity of the world into which the Roma are incredulously drawn¦ [and] the magnanimity and power of Doughty’s achievement.’
‘In an ambitious departure from contemporary themes, Louise Doughty has taken for her subject the mass killing of the Romany tribes under the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia… the compelling story sweeps you along from beginning to end. Doughty writes with a deep knowledge of her subject.’
‘Louise Doughty’s Fires in the Dark is undoubtedly both a topical and important book. Combining a compelling human story with a necessary historical lesson, Doughty’s fourth novel is her best by far and nothing less than an essential read.’