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August 12, 2022



Sweden: Pippi Longstocking gets a rewrite, this time as a Romani girl

15.10.2018 9:15
The Swedish author Gunilla Lundgren during a literary workshop with Romani children. (PHOTO:  personal archive of Gunilla Lundgren)
The Swedish author Gunilla Lundgren during a literary workshop with Romani children. (PHOTO: personal archive of Gunilla Lundgren)

Most of us know the children's stories about Pippi Longstocking by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. The little girl with braids and freckles who has exceptional abilities for her age and whose buccaneer father is always at sea moves into a quiet, small Swedish town, where she lives alone in her own house with her horse and her monkey.

The adventure stories were first published in 1945, and in 1969 Sweden's first television series based on them was broadcast. Now, 50 years later, Pippi will undergo another adventure in an absolutely different setting.

In the forthcoming version, Pippi will be a Romani girl who moves into the Rinkeby quarter of Stockholm, which has recently become especially known for its high number of newly-arrived immigrants. The idea arose during a literary workshop for Romani children in Rinkeby.

Felicia Di Fransecsco, a 12-year-old participant, brought the idea up. The workshop organizer, Gunilla Lundgren, who is a well-known Swedish author, will write the story of Pippi from Rinkeby together with the children.

The new adventure will be broadcast in five episodes from 29 October to 2 November by the Swedish public broadcasting radio service Sveriges Radio and will also be released as a book. Lundgren told news server that the new version of the book will be available not just in English, but also in Finnish, the Meänkieli dialect of Finnish, Romanes, Sami and Yiddish.

Swedish Radio has contracted with Astrid Lindgren's descendants and estate managers to authorize the continuation of this beloved story. While Lindgren's relatives originally disagreed with publishing a new book, they were eventually convinced by the charitable nature of the entire project, as the creative directors plan to donate profits from the book sales to the establishment of a children's library in Bucharest, Romania.

Lundgren is a Swedish activist on environmental and peace issues as well as an author. She has written more than 30 children's books, some of which have been published in bilingual editions for the second generation of children from immigrant families in Sweden.

The author wrote her very first children's book, "Maritza, a Gypsy Girl" (Maritza, en zigenarflicka) in 1972 together with three adolescent Romani girls. She likes the concept of co-authorship and has written many other books in collaboration with Romani friends, such as the biography "From Coppersmith to Nurse: Aljosha the Son of a Gypsy Chief" or "Sofia Z-4515", in which she and Sofia Taikon tell the Auschwitz survivor's life story.

zda, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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