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edited by Yefim Druts & Alexei Gessler & translated by James Riordan

Age Range: 6 & up

Pub Date: Dec. 20th, 1992
ISBN: 1-56656-100-0
Publisher: Interlink

 In the well-regarded ``International Folk Tale Series,'' a grand collection of 36 tales, the fascinating result of the long interaction between the self-reliant gypsies and their reluctant Russian neighbors, as collected by two Moscow researchers. In an excellent introduction, the translator explores the mysterious history of the people who call themselves Rom, perpetual outsiders whose probable origins were in India; in Russia, as elsewhere, some settled and others continued to roam while their traditions endured--including these stories, whose action vividly reveals the gypsies' close-knit society. The stories are splendid: heroic or romantic; tales of fools or of clever tricksters outwitting each other--or the devil; ghosts foiled by the power of the church or horrifyingly triumphant. The vibrant characters are sometimes wealthy but often poor; though Rom society is male-dominated, there are also clever, assertive women--and one who, threatened with rape, literally becomes stone. It's also a society that's often outside the law of the czars, with horse-stealing a normal activity yet with its own strict moral code, including hospitality and taking care of its own. These wonderfully varied stories are bursting with drama and humor, rich with lively characters and swift-moving, surprising events. As a collection of gypsy folklore, this seems to be unique; for readers or storytellers, it's a treasure trove. (Folklore. 6+)