THE ROADS OF THE ROMA: a PEN Anthology of Gypsy Writers -- a jewel for readers who love poetry and history
The Roads of the Roma: a PEN Anthology of Gypsy Writers edited by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd & Rajko Duric (1998, University of Hertfordshire Press; 160 pages)
One of the services we offer at the Sitka Public Library is the Interlibrary Loan , a service whereby a user of one library can borrow books or receive photocopies of documents that are owned by another library. I ordered this book through Interlibrary Loan because I am fascinated with the Romani people and language. In this volume, the writings of 30 authors have been brought together in a PEN anthology of the literature of the Roma. Over half was originally written in Romani, with versions by their authors in different European languages, including Polish, Italian, French and German. The ones in the book are English translations, but their spirit has been maintained by Burton Bollag, Siobhan Dowd, Tom Fugalli, Ian MacAndless, Minna Proctor, Anika Weiss and others.
What is fantastic about this volume is that while hundreds of poems, plays, operas and novels have been written with Roma characters or themes in mind, virtually none of them have been written by Roma themselves. This has resulted in the emergence, over the years, of a literary, fictitious “Gypsy” image, and an equally unreal history. The book’s introduction by Ian Hancock is a mesmerizing piece that explains this dilemma: “While we suffer physically on the streets of Europe, we are targeted in a different but just as significant way in literature. Both situations are equally oppressive, and both are provoking differing responses from the Romani people.“ And adds: “This book brings to the English-speaking world for the very first time writings not just about Roma but by Roma, and will, one foresees, play an important role in laying to rest the stereotypes which stand between the Romani peoples and their acceptance as real and feeling members of the human community.”
This book is a jewel for readers who love poetry and history, and who are also aware of the dangers of not learning from the past.
“We were silent for thousands of years
But our hearts are full
Of unuttered sentences,
Like a sea receiving
Blue river waters
All its life long.”
-- From The People With The Face of the Sun
By Dezider Banga (Translated from Italian by Minna Proctor)
Order this title through Interlibrary Loan: The Roads of the Roma
Recommended by: Maite