The publishing house “Vydavnytstvo” released the long-awaited book “The Way of/to Roma”, which is an anthology of essays by Ukrainian authors, including those of Roma origin. In the book, readers will find 19 short stories about different ethnicities’ coexistence in a multicultural community, cohesion, mutual respect and tolerance.
The book “The Way of/to the Roma”is a collection of short stories compiled with the purpose to eliminate stereotypes about the Roma prevailing in the society.
The authors of the anthology are well-known Ukrainian writers, translators, poets, journalists, public personas and novice authors: Andriy Lyubka, Andriy (Bandy) Sholtes, Lyubov Yakymchuk, Mykola Burmek-Duri, Lyubov Yeremicheva, Alyona Kazanska, Rostyslav Kuzyk, Olena Marchuk, Petro Rusanenko, Lyuba-Paraskevia Strynadyuk, Andriy Tuzhikov, Kateryna Gladka, Olga Matso, Eva Raiska, Anastasia Kholyavka, Lyubov Baz, Karina Sunlife and Irena Yanitska. Their essays are complemented by illustrations created by the following artists: Olena Havryshchuk, Natalia (NONA) Zhuravchak, Tiberiy Jonash and Tetiana Lytvyn. The book editor is Marianna Kiyanovska, a well-known Ukrainian writer, literary critic and translator. Yuriy Barabash and Ilya Strongovsky worked on the book design.
The book was created as a result of the literary and artistic residence project “SpilnoART”, which was conducted in the spring of 2019. It was organized by the Roma Program of the International Renaissance Foundation. When planning the residency project, the organizers sought to create an enabling space for the joint creative process of writers and artists of both Ukrainian and Roma origin, as well as representatives of other ethnic groups. The purpose of the residency project was to facilitate the artists’ free self-reflection and self-presentation, and to ensure that participants gain new knowledge and skills by learning from masters.
“We were driven by realizing the truth that the ethnic minorities, in particular, Roma, have very little self–representation in the domestic literature and arts, in spite of the fact that Ukraine is a multicultural society. It is usually the “majority” that talks about Roma and on behalf of Roma, often through the prism of their own stereotypes formed under condition of lack of direct contact. That is why our goal was to help Roma and those who know them well, to tell their own stories not distorted through perspective of other people, as well as to create space for dialogue, exchange of personal and professional experience and mutual understanding,” said Sergiy Ponomaryov, Roma Program Director of the International Renaissance Foundation.
Prior to SpilnoART residence project, a competition was held to select 20 talented artists, designers, writers, journalists and public personas from different parts of Ukraine. The residence curator was a historian and publicist Roman Kabachiy: “We tried to design our program in a way so as to make each day special and unique, bringing new impressions. We hope it worked out well, and we hope that it was really interesting and useful for our residents to have worked together on creative projects, despite busy schedule of events, overwhelming flow of new information, requirements to be “fully engaged” and to demonstrate self-discipline and self-organization”.
The book appeared very colorful and eclectic, like any anthology. However, what makes it stand out from other books is the perceptible spirit of cooperation between creative people, attributed to the culture of tolerance in community life and desire to learn more about each other.
“The main objective of the publishing house “Vydavnytstvo” has always been and remains to work with sensitive issues and help discriminated social groups to overcome harmful stereotypes. The book “The Way of/to Roma” is important for us because it portrays Roma as bright personalities, telling the Ukrainian readers about their life and problems they overcome on a daily basis. We very much hope that the book will help to get rid of prejudices or at least highlight the positive ways for our co-existence,” said Lilia Omelyanenko, co-founder of the publishing house “Vydavnytstvo”.