Katarina Taikon (1932–1995) wrote her first book in 1963 (Gypsy Woman) and at the same time she became a prominent public figure as the most active voice for the equal rights of Swedish Roma. In those times the most urgent matters were housing and education because the vast majority of Roma were excluded from the Swedish welfare state. Katarina Taikon published articles and books, traveled throughout Sweden giving public lectures, and was a core organizer of the civil rights movement.
In 1969 she wrote the first Katitzi book, a 13 part children’s book series. Katitzi takes place during the 1930’s and 40’s and depicts the life of a young Roma girl and her family. We follow Katitzi from the age of seven when she is part of her family’s traveling amusement park, until the age of fifteen when she is coming of age and struggling to find her own path. Katitzi became one of the all time most popular children’s books in Sweden.
Katarina Taikon shaped the cultural landscape of the 1960’s and 70’s and wrote the Roma into Sweden’s human rights story.
The Day I Will Be Free (Natur & Kultur, 2012) details the life, work, and lasting impact of Taikon’s voice. The author Lawen Mohtadi will discuss her research into Taikon’s legacy as she presents her award-winning book for the first time to an anglophone audience. Based in Stockholm, Lawen Mohtadi is a freelance journalist and critic at Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest daily paper. She is the author of the award winning book The Day I Will Be Free about Swedish-Roma writer and civil rights activist Katarina Taikon. Mohtadi is currently working on a documentary film about Katarina Taikon and the Swedish-Roma civil rights movement.