Title: Zoli
Authors: McCann, Colum
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 279
Year: 2007
Language: English
Description: The story of the Slovakian Roma from World War II through the establishment of the Communist bloc, and that of Zoli Novotna whose character is loosely based on the Romany poet, Papusza. As 1930s fascism spreads over Czechoslovakia, Zoli and her grandfather flee to join a clan of fellow Romani harpists. She learns to read and write, later becoming involved with poet Martin Stransk. Her poems are promoted by Martin as the harbinger of a new Gypsy literature. The Communist government, however, appropriates Zoli's work for its project to assimilate the Roma. [Larger font]

Comments from Groups:

We enjoyed this book even though it was gloomy. The historical background was interesting, the life of the Romani. Masterton 008

Everybody loved this book...It led to discussion on other marginalised groups such as Aborigines, and some of the policies forced upon this group too. Morrinsville 001

A very powerful novel - amazing research. The portrayal of Zoli was so real. Taupo 004

Generated much discussion. Beautiful prose and descriptive passages. Most of the group were quite ignorant about gypsy people. Tauranga 028

We all enjoyed it greatly. Some of us would like to re-read it to fully appreciate the imagery. Very lively discussion about identity, assimilation, poverty and health. Whitby 003

Categories: Fiction, Larger font


[Please log in to write a review]
By: CHCH 239 2021-09-08 14:45:26
Excellent read - highly recommended. An absorbing insight into Romani culture, and an added interest knowing that the heroine was based on a real person.

By: WELL 012 2021-07-22 15:02:17
Not sure if we enjoyed the book, and didn't warm to the main character, but we enjoyed the spare writing style - very evocative in few words. And this, more than many other books, prompted a lot of discussion. Glad we read it.

By: WELL 001 2021-07-22 15:00:25
The group agreed this was a well-written book - very evocative descriptions of places. Most people didn't find the characters fleshed out enough. The early chapters were particularly strong.

By: FERN 001 2021-07-22 14:58:47
Generated a lot of discussion about culture and loyalty. However we felt we would have liked more detail in some areas of Zoli's life ( such as the 2nd husband) and less about the rugged journey to Paris. A brave move for an Irish male to write about a female Romany culture, but well executed.

By: THAM 002 2021-07-22 14:56:11
Interesting topic, but most did not like the style of writing.

By: TIMAR 013 2021-07-22 14:53:19
We enjoyed learning the history at the same time. Great research was evident. We really enjoyed this.

By: CHCH 099 2021-07-22 14:52:18
We gave it a 4 - a good read.

The Book Discussion 
Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
BDS is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations