Sandra Jayat was born a Romni in Italy in 1939. In France, she is best known as a painter. However, her work as a writer, particularly as a poet, has always been an integral part of her overall artistic output. Jayat, who had fledfrom a forced marriage at the age of 15, committed herself to securing artistic recognition for Roma and Sinti at the international level. Her commitment culminated in the organisation and curatorial supervision of the exhibition [‘Première Mondiale de l’Art Tzigane’, which ran from 6 to 30 May 1985 at the Conciergerie in Paris.

In the 1980s, her first autobiographically inspired novel, La longue route d’une zingarina (1978), became part of the list of required reading for French literature classes at schools. As a result, it achieved exceptional sales figures of more than 40,000 copies, endowing its author with a comparatively high degree of celebrity in France. Jayat, who still lives in Paris today, derives from the group of Manouches. Her entire artistic oeuvre is inspired by the world and symbolism of Roma.

Selected works

Jayat, Sandra. 2010. La zingarina ou l’herbe sauvage, Paris: Max Milo.

Jayat, Sandra. 1996 [1978]. La longue route d’une zingarina, Paris: pocket junior.

Jayat, Sandra. 1986. El Romanes, Paris: Magnard.

Jayat, Sandra. 1972. Kourako suivi de Les deux lunes de Savyo, Tournai: Casterman.

Further reading

Blandfort, Julia. 2011. Die doppelte Grenze. Sandra Jayats Roman La longue route d’une zingarina als Raum diasporischer Identität. In: Blandfort, Julia, Hertrampf Marina Ortrud M. (eds): Grenzerfahrungen: Roma-Literaturen in der Romania, [Grenzwanderungen. Transdisziplinärer Kulturdialog 2] Berlin: LIT, pp. 217–44.

Blandfort, Julia. 2015. Die Literatur der Roma Frankreichs, Berlin: de Gruyter.

Maurice, Daphne. 1973. Sandra Jayat. The Gypsy Poetess. In: Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society 3, 52, pp. 91–93.