Gunilla Lundgren (b. 1942) is a Swedish writer who started working with Roma in the late 1960s as a teacher of Romani students. She wrote her first book, Maritza – en zigenarflicka (Maritza) in 1972, together with three teenage Romani girls, Nina Taikon and Gina and Senia Tan-Mercowic. Between 1972 and 2017 Gunilla Lundgren wrote 15 books in cooperation with young and old Roma. In addition, she edited two anthologies that presented Romani literature from around the world to the Swedish public.
She has been involved over the years in many events promoting Romani literature in Sweden and continues to organise writings and reading events in the Rinkeby neighbourhood of Stockholm. She writes regularly for the Romani journal E Romani Glinda, which Fred Taikon and Bengt O Börklund edit. Her book Sofia Z-4515, created together with Sofia Taikon, who survived Auschwitz, won the prestigious prize ‘Artist against Nazism’ in 2006.
Gunilla Lundgren is the (co)-writer of and creative engine behind many of the Romani books produced in Sweden. She runs a writing club for young Romani children called the ‘Le Glatenge Pen Club’. “Askungen i Rinkeby” (“Cinderella in Rinkeby”), the first book written by Lundgren and the club, enjoyed success and was translated into Romani in 2016. Inspired and/or co-authored by her are works by Alyosha Taikon, Sofia Taikon, Nadja Taikon and Ramiz Ramadani.
Gunilla Lundgren can be considered the founder of a special type of (Romani) book publishing in Sweden that is characterised by several features. First, her books are picture books richly illustrated by documentary photos and graphic illustrations of the main character(s), which narrate in the first person – thus, the text and illustrations are of equal importance. Second, the narrative is based on the autobiography of the Romani personality and masterly combines the contemporary life of Roma with accounts of their ancestors. And third, the books are suitable for both young people and adults. This style has influenced to a great extent the Romani book scene and other Romani writers publishing in Sweden.
Selected bibliography (books published with and about Roma)
Lundgren, Gunilla, Senia & Gina Tan-Mercowic, Nina Taikon. 1972. Maritza en Zigenarflicka. Stockholm: AWE/Gebes.
Lundgren, Gunilla. 1977. Hur ska det gå för Armas. Stockholm: AWE/Gebes.
Lundgren, Gunilla, Zenia Tan Mercowich. 1991. Zenia, en Zigenerska. Stockholm: Alfabeta.
Lundgren, Gunilla, Aljosha Dimiter Taikon. 1998. Aljosha - Zigenarhövdingens pojke. Stockholm: Bonnier/Carlsen. [Illustrations: Amanda Eriksson]
Lundgren, Gunilla, Aljosha Dimiter Taikon. 2001. O Aljosha, o siav le birevosko, translated in Romany by Hasse J.Columbus and Jonny G Ivanovitch. Stockholm: Podium.
Lundgren, Gunilla, Aljosha Dimiter Taikon. 2003. Alyosha, the son of a Gypsy chief, bilingual in Romany and English, translated by Donald Kenrick. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.
Lundgren, Gunilla. 1999. Tariq, bergets hövding. Stockholm: CURA.
Lundgren, Gunilla. 2001. O Tariq, o birevo la plajako, translated in Romany by Hasse J.Columbus and Jonny G Ivanovitch. Stockholm: Podium.
Lundgren, Gunilla, Sofia Taikon, Amanda Eriksson. Žofi Z-4515 / Sofia Z-4515. 2005. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Tranan och Podium. [Illustrations by Amanda Eriksson]
Lundgren, Gunilla, Sofia Taikon, Amanda Eriksson. 2012. Sofia Z-4515, translated to English by Janna Eliot. London: Mantra Lingua Ltd, Global House London. [Illustrations: Amanda Eriksson]
Lundgren, Gunilla, Ramiz Ramadani. 2013. Ramis resa. Stockholm: Tranan.
Lundgren, Gunilla, Amanda Eriksson, Le Glátenge Pen Club. 2016. Askungen i Rinkeby. Stockholm: Tranan. [Illustrations by Amanda Eriksson]
Lundgren, Gunilla, Le Glaténge Pen Club. 2016. E vušariájka ánde Rinkeby, translated to Romani by Fred Taikon. Stockholm: ERG förlag. [Illustrations by Amanda Eriksson]