With rich, colorful strokes, Wang paints a diverse gallery of characters who ring with credibility as the reader acknowledges the flaws of the best and pities the weaknesses of the worst.
Richmond Times Dispatch
Wang dazzles as a literary craftsman in “Hidden Light.”
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is splendid—a distinctive clear-eyed perspective on a fresh corner of the Civil War. The characters are fully alive, wonderfully varied, and the narrative voice is particularly lucid, in sharp contrast with the raving bloody madness of that dark moment in American history.
author of Cold Mountain
winner of the 1997 National Book Award
Like Robert Penn Warren who turned again and again to history as a subject for his fiction and poetry, Wang examines not only the facts of the past but also creates a utterly believable possible past—one based on considerable research but only brought to vivid life through the lens of imagination. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is a powerful and important novel about a lost piece of American history.
United States Poet Laureate, 2012-2014
author of Native Guard
winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
In this fine novel, Daren Wang compellingly depicts the darkness of our country’s greatest era of strife, but he also finds courage and love. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is a wise and timely book.
Above The Waterfall
The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is so self-assured I’m shocked it’s a debut. Wang’s absorbing and ambitious first novel brings our history to vivid life in scenes that are by turns brutal and breathtakingly lovely. I will carry this story of love and vengeance, ruin and restoration with me for a long, long time. Read it; you will want to pass it on. —
The Almost Sisters and
gods in Alabama
An instant classic, this debut novel announces the arrival of a major talent, fully matured.
Colors of the Mountain
From the very first sentence of The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, you know you are in the hands of a masterful storyteller, one who reveals truths, hardships, nuances, and complexities with the eye of an artist. Though set in the past, this is a new story, an important story, one we all need to read. Daren Wang’s first novel is a marvel, and I hope he writes many, many more.
Connie May Fowler
Before Women had Wings and
A Million Fragile Bones
One true sign of a born novelist is the ability to crawl inside characters who come from a world far from the writer’s own time and personal experience. In his ambitious first novel, Daren Wang has done this spectacularly well. The people of his story come alive through the music of their words. This is a vivid study of a corner of Civil War America that feels fresh and unexplored. Like all the best historical fiction, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires opens a window into the present by exploring the past.
Crazy in Alabama and
The Hidden Light of Northern Fires pulses with visceral emotion, a story where one has the equal and opposite need to quickly turn the page and yet also linger over the palpably beautiful language. A powerful and life-affirming story that asks the important question – are we meant to be free, and if so how? From the intrigue on page one, we are immersed in a world that is in the past, but never gone. With a forbidden love story weaving in and out of the pages, Daren Wang has crafted a novel that will linger in the heart long after its last page.”
Patti Callahan Henry
The Idea of Love and
The Bookshop At Waters End
A moving tale of loyalty and betrayal, violence and retribution, lofty ideals and harsh reality. Daren Wang has shined a light on a hidden corner of a story you thought you knew, revealing a divided America that, like our own, is both strange and true.
The Last Town on Earth
Mary Willis makes Scarlett O’Hara look like a whiney brat. Sure, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires brings to life an astounding lost story of the Civil War, but is also a stay-up-all-night, read-it-in-one-sitting novel that looses the corseted ladies of the era onto the real world.
Sin in the Second City, American Rose
and Liar Temptress Soldier Spy
Daren Wang’s luminous first novel, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, plumbs a national paradox in miniature: Town Line, New York, the only town north of the Mason-Dixon Line to secede from the union. At the center of an impressive array of characters—runaway slaves, confederate agents, vagabonds—is the strong-willed abolitionist Mary Willis, whose difficult family life and tragic love story are the beating heart of this important book: an original take on the mysteries of war that continues to define our nation.
Crooked River Burning and
The Godfather Returns
In Town Line, NY, a hamlet that voted to secede from the Union and declare itself an independent state, the conflict is rendered in microcosm as siblings and friends take up arms against each other. The little-known history that informs The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is nearly as interesting as the vividly portrayed characters who struggle to find the right course of action or to redeem themselves from terrible mistakes. Wang’s engaging novel is a timely reminder of what can happen to a people when human rights are denied and the civil fabric of a nation is torn to pieces.
The Family Corleone
By unearthing a little known piece of history — that a town in western New York voted to secede from the Union at the start of the Civil War — and then applying his fierce imagination to this real-life discovery, Daren Wang transports us into a gripping and complex world of sibling rivalry, forbidden love, breathtaking cruelty, moral clarity, and hard-earned redemption. This excellent and timely novel asks of its characters the same galvanizing question we find ourselves facing today: Which side are you on?
Susan Rebecca White
A Place at the Table