Czech Republic: New book transforms views of Romani literature
The Czech literary monthly Host (Guest) has reviewed a collection of stories called The Sun Sets in the Morning (Slunce zapadá už ráno), the Romani authors of which won a 2014 Roma Spirit award. The review focuses on the authorial experiences to date of Eva Danišová, Irena Eliášová, Jana Hejkrlíková and Iveta Kokyová, saying that the writers focus on "women's" themes because their works discuss the issues of family and partner relationships, generational change, the position of Romani women in their community and outside it, or recollections of childhood.
The review also analyzes the stories by each author. Prose writer Eliášová, whose literary works frequently draw on the stories of people around her, through which she endeavors to change the majority population's attitudes toward Roma, focuses on the subject of Romani families and their traditions in her story "Nothing to Feed the Children" (Není co dát jíst dětem).
Hejkrlíková, who in addition to writing also dedicates herself to organizing the Příbramský huntík music festival and to singing, returns to the years of her childhood during socialism in the story "My Years of Ink" (Má inkoustová léta). Kokyová's story "There is Only One Family" (Rodina je jen jedna) is about a Romani family and the tragicomic figure of their grandmother as the bearer of ancestral memory.
Danišová, who also works a social worker and a translator from Czech to Romani, contributes a story called "To Have Someone of Your Own" (Mít někoho svého), the main heroine of which is a divorced social worker - a completely new type of protagonist in the field of Romani literature - whose client Aranka connects her to Romani people. The review of these works focuses mainly on the language used in the stories - two of them are published in the original Romani, accompanied by Czech translation.
The monthly gives a positive assessment of the work's authenticity and the fact that, unlike nostalgic Romani literature, "this selection introduces a straightforwardly realistic prose that transforms the received view of Romani literature as naive tales about 'the old days'." Edited by Lukáš Houdek and Karolína Ryvolová, the publication was issued by Knihovna Václava Havla in 2014; the full Czech title is Irena Eliášová — Jana Hejkrlíková — Iveta Kokyová — Eva Danišová: Slunce zapadá už ráno. Sborník současné ženské romské prózy.
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