In Love and War

by Veijo Baltzar


The Croatian translation rights to the book ”In Love and War” by Veijo Baltzar have been sold to the publishing house ”Sandorf” by Sederholm Consulting Agency.

The Slovak translation rights to the book ”Phuro” by Veijo Baltzar have been sold to the publishing house ”Trio Publishing” by Sederholm Consulting Agency.

A gypsy never quits

- Finnish Literature Society

Veijo Baltzar has constructed a solid, full- blooded tale of Romani beliefs and customs built on a foundation of grim reality.


Veijo Baltzar's eighth novel, Sodassa ja rakkaudessa ('In Love and War', Tammi 2008) is the story of a Romani community living on the outskirts of a German town from the end of the 1930s, through the concentration camps of World War II, to the end of the war. Two young Romanis emerge as the book's main characters - Kastalo, an orphan shoe-shine boy and pickpocket who grew up on the streets, and Carinja, a young girl from a respectable Romani family with whom he falls in love. Obstacles to the misalliance arise from Carinja's parents, her brother Giri, and her arranged bridegroom Bustan, as well as the tumult of world history.


The author's own Romani background is reflected in descriptive passages and expressive details as well as in the narrative itself. Without a doubt the most important supporting character is... a horse. In his description of
the horse, Baltzar goes deep into his own experience. The horse is present everywhere. The horse understands, gives comfort, senses danger before the people do, and rescues the persecuted in their hour of need - in the end with its own flesh.


The central settings for the plot are the familiar communities of Romani culture such as nuclear and extended families and gypsy camps and, perhaps most important, travelling wagon trains. In the words of the narrator:


The caravan was like a ship, commanded by a captain. Numerous family members with various skills were in the crew: caretakers, grease monkeys, wheel tarrers, navigators, drivers, cooks, cleaners, pilots - plus scouts, storytellers, music makers, singers, and dancers. Weepers and complainers. But they were all one big happy family.


In the story, the caravan led by old man Dromal treks across the darkest periods of 20th century history, and the traditional values and dreams of the Romani hang in the balance. In the end, in a death camp devoid of all human values, Kastalo is forced to make choices that conflict with his own culture.


From a foundation in grim reality Baltzar constructs a solid, full-blooded story of the beliefs and customs of the Romani that springs from a lifetime faith: "A gypsy never quits!" Their means of survival are extremely diverse: for women they are based on social skills and for men on intuition and life experience. A crackling and quick rhythm in the dialogue teases, flatters and argues with the reader, and the brief sentences bring the tale to life.


The suspenseful narrative brings the story to a surprising conclusion. It is a story of unrequited love that ends at a funeral that includes Carinja, her betrothed Bustan, and her beloved Kastalo, who have survived the concentration camps. But who is being buried in this final scene?

Risto Blomster
Finnish Literature Society 16.4.2009
Translated by Lola Rogers

P  O  E  M  S
Whole Night Plays

1981  The Black Scourge (Musta ruoska). Roma
           theatre Drom

1982   The Hungry Cranes (Nälkäkurjet). Drom

1980  The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah. A play
           for children. Performed in theatre Green
           Apple in Helsinki.

1983   I’ll Forge Stone to Be a Horse (Taon
           kivestä hevosen). Drom Theatre,
           Helsinki Student Theater. The play was
           performed at the International Theatre             Festival at Hamburg 22.–26.11.1985 with
           excellent reviews. Performances at
           Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg.

1984   Iron Nights (Rautayöt). Drom Theatre.

1986   Iron Horses (Rautaratsut). Drom Theatre.

1991   The God Is Great (Jumala on suuri).
           Passion play. Premiere at Rautalampi
           church. Männistö church, Kuopio 1993

1992   The Paradise of Gods (Jumalten
           Paratiisi). Kuopio. Premiere at the
           Kuopio Student theatre/ Kuopio
           Student Theatre.

1993   Backyard Carmen (Takapihan Carmen)               Premiere at the Kuopio Student theatre
1993   The Gang, diploma work of a drama
           course. Premiere at the Helsinki
           Deaconess Institute’s 400-birthday

1993   The Dance, premiere at Cultural Centre             Poleeni, Pieksämäki.

1993   I Will Not Leave My Friend (Kaveria ei
           jätetä). Premiere at the Christian
          Institute of Pieksämäki.

1996   The Forest of Women (Naisten metsä).
           Premiere at the Adult Education Centre
           of Helsinki.

1997   Love and Mary (Rakkauteni Maria)
           Oratory. Premiere at the International
           Church Festival of Lappeenranta.

1994-  ORLI, Folk opera. Premiere at the
           Imatra Cultural Center 1995.
1997   The second
version premiered in March
           1997 at Finlandia Hall, Helsinki.

2004   The Paradise of Gods (Jumalten
           Paratiisi). Premiere at Snåre Hall,
           Tammisaari (other venues Billnäs, Etno
           festival; Nurmijärvi, Taaborinvuori and
           Cultural Centre Caisa)

2009   BOTOX. A modern play about
           multicultural Finland. Helsinki. Premiere
           at Cultural Centre STOA (other venues
           Cultural Centres Vuotalo and Caisa).

2011-  The God is Great (Jumala on Suuri). A
2012   modernized version of the play
 written in 1991) about
           crucifixion of Jesus Christ in today’s
           society. Music: string quartet from
           Sibelius Academy. Premiere at The Rock
           Church, Helsinki.

2014   With the Seven-String Guitar. Gipsy
           cabaret. Premiere at the Alexander
           Theatre, Helsinki

2016   Sin. A musical play. Premiere at the
           Alexander Theatre, Helsinki             


Pictures from a book "The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah"

O T H E R s