The first major novel about Eastern Europe's Roma, or Travelers (Gypsies), by a Romani author, The Color of Smoke is both a work of passion chronicling one young man's rise to manhood and an epic work that conjures up a dark era of world history. It is an undiscovered classic that has been published in several languages since its 1975 appearance in Hungary--but never before in English.
Inspired by the author's own boyhood in World War II-era Hungary, it is a beautifully written coming-of-age story of a Romani boy torn between the community of his birth and the mainstream society that both entices him and rejects him.
“A picaresque tale of the struggles of the Romany (also known as the Gypsies) in Hungary before World War II, appearing for the first time in English . . . A rare, observant . . . snapshot of Romany life.”
“Gypsy characters . . . appear time and again in literature. However, this is the first novel in which a Gypsy himself depicts his people—marked for centuries by ostracism and misery—with complete authenticity and literary truthfulness . . . Its description of the life of a Gypsy group during the 1930s and 1940s grabs the reader through the intensity and immediacy of its ambiance and language. . . . Characters, legends, customs, and Dionysian passions—brought to life superbly—are effortlessly treated in colorful episodes. . . . A one-of-a-kind coming-of-age novel.”
—Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“It would not be an exaggeration to describe Lakatos as a Romani Proust.”
⎯Cécile Kovácsházy, TheConversation.com
“The Color of Smoke is a gripping and important narrative of a subject obscured by myth and misconception. Thanks to Lakatos’s elegant work, ignorance regarding the fate of the Roma people is no longer an excuse for inaction on their behalf.”
–Kati Marton, author of Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America
“That it took four decades for Menyhért Lakatos’s epic novel The Color of Smoke to finally appear in English translation is astonishing. To me and many other Hungarians, this 1975 classic shined a light on a marginalized people who lived among us but about whom we knew little: the Roma (Gypsies), who are by far the largest minority in Europe. The book is a riveting coming-of-age story set during World War II. It also powerfully chronicles the increasing social tensions that culminated in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Roma in the Holocaust.”
⎯Géza Röhrig, writer and actor (Son of Saul), writing for the Wall Street Journal