The Living Fire

Before me are two roads …

“The living fire is that spark of defiance that is the birthright of everyone. In some, it has gone out, in others, it is only a smouldering ember. But in others it blazes into an inferno of passion, creativity, rebellion and all too often violence. This is my story, the saga of a Canadian-born Rom. All names of characters, except mine and that of my wife, are fictitious and the drama is in places fictionalized, a parallel rather than the actuality. But the pathos, tragedy and humour are a part of my life and my struggle to find recognition and equality in the land where I was born. I failed in both of these aims and this is the story of that failure.”

Ronald Lee, London, England, 1970.

Ronald Lee’s autobiographical novel, formerly published as Goddam Gypsy, is an intense, fast-moving and brutally honest affair. Yanko – a Canadian Rom who ‘took the non-Romani way but didn’t go far’ – seeks his fortunes both among and apart from the Roma, never quite finding his place.

His story exposes the out-of-sight, out-of-mind world of Canada’s Roma in 1970’s Montreal: Parties, rackets, bar brawls, weddings, desperate poverty, and intermittent police raids fuel in Yanko the passion, creativity and rebellious defiance that is The Living Fire.

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