Jakob’s Colours

Short listed for the Authors Club First Novel Award

One of Elle Magazine’s Books of the Year


Jakob’s Colours

Austria, 1944. Jakob, a gypsy boy – half Roma, half Yenish – runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another’s blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y.

He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone.

‘Don’t be afraid, Jakob,’ his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. ‘See the colours, my boy,’ he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs.

Spanning from one world war to another, taking us across England, Switzerland and Austria, Jakob’s Colours draws from the little-known piece of history: the Porajmos, or Gypsy Holocaust. Told through the interlinking stories of Jakob, an eight year old gypsy boy, his Roma father Yavy, and his English mother Lor, this is a first novel about the legacies passed down from one generation to another, about finding hope where there is no hope and colour where there is no colour.

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