BUDAPEST—The Open Society Institute (OSI) today announced the winners of the Roma Literary Awards Program. In a ceremony held on International Roma Day, OSI Chair George Soros and Ljatif Demir, a member of the awards jury, honored eight Romany writers from Central and Eastern Europe for their artistic achievement in literature.

The purpose of the Roma Literary Awards Program, announced in 2002, was threefold: to promote artistically excellent prose and poetry written by Central and Eastern European Roma; to promote the Romany language through literature; and to broaden public access to the excellence and diversity of the literary arts in the countries of the region.

Fifty writers from 12 countries submitted works for the competition, and a committee of literary experts initially evaluated the submissions. Finalists were then chosen from among the most highly scored pieces by an international jury of Roma, composed of Ljatif Demir (Macedonia), Ata Tanova Becheva (Bulgaria), and Dezider Banga (Slovakia).

The jury bestowed the Award for Fiction and the Award for Translation, but chose not to present the Award for Poetry. Each award winner will receive $5,000. Two writers were given Special Distinction in each of three categories: fiction, poetry, and translation. These writers will each receive $1,000. (The awards program also included a non-fiction category, but very few writers submitted works in this category, and the committee did not select any of the submissions for the final round.)

In recognizing the works of these writers, the jury noted that each of their submissions successfully opens new channels for cross-cultural dialogue and promotes tolerance. All of the authors, through their literary works, provide valuable information about their culture, often challenging preconceived arguments and stereotypes. Their works, the jury remarked, all capture the versatility, diversity, and flexibility of the Romany language, each making valuable contributions to the ongoing process of establishing a Romany literary standard.

The writers recognized by the Roma Literary Awards Program are listed below by category.

Fiction

The Award for Fiction
Rajko Djuric, originally from Serbia and Montenegro and currently residing in Germany, was honored for his outstanding short stories in Romany, English, and German, including "O phurd e Devlesko," "A Wedding in Auschwitz," and "Ich Bin Ein Auschwitz-Deutscher."

Special Distinction in Fiction
Tera Fabiánová of the Czech Republic was recognized for her fine short stories, published in bilingual (Romany-Czech) editions, including Cavargos/Tulak, Sar me phiravas andre skola/Jak jsem chodila do skoly, "Achil'om Romni," "Miro Dzivipen/Muj zivot" "So dzalas o Miskas sune/Co se Miskovi zdalo," and "Erzika."

Andrej Gina of the Czech Republic, was recognized for his bilingual (Romany-Czech) collection of short stories, entitled Bijav/Svatba, and several additional short stories and tales, including "E Marushka," "Pal o Dilino," and "Pal o Preparudo."

Poetry

Special Distinction in Poetry
Baja Saitovic-Lukin of Serbia and Montenegro was recognized for his distinguished bilingual (Romany-Serbian) collection of poetry, Ak Avilam/Evo Stigli Smo.

Mehmed Merejan of Bulgaria was recognized for his exceptional Bulgarian-language volume of poetry, Spomen za Utre.

Translation

The Award for Translation
József Choli Daróczi of Hungary was honored for his outstanding translation of Federico Garia Lorca's Romancero gitano into the Romany language in a poetry collection entitled Romane romancura.

Special Distinction in Translation
Gusztáv Nagy of Hungary was recognized for his translation of Hungarian author Imre Madach's dramatic poem The Tragedy of Man into the Romany language.

Valdemar Kalinin, originally from Belarus and currently residing in the United Kingdom, was recognized for his excellent partial translation of the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek originals into the Baltic Romany dialect.