The Black Tango

1990, Tammi

Elias does not belong to the upper class, nor the middle. His life occurs on the lowest steps of the society. He has spent his time in foster homes in the countryside and finally the young man has arrived to the big city, Helsinki. Elias sells clocks in the railway station under his cousin Feija’s watching eye. Feija is his superior in every way.

Feija does not only know the shady business of the streets but he has Lissu, a high-society girl from a Finnish family. Suddenly Lissu falls in love with Elias and their journey begins. The Black Tango is the urban novel of the Gypsies, depicting the crumbling of Roma culture as a result of urbanization and withering of the traditional lifestyle. The novel is based on things “seen and experienced”. The Black Tango of life.
“The Black Tango tells the story of assimilation, cultures melting into the mainstream, a depiction of the early stages of urban life style, about disappearance of the individual identities within the tribe. The rules, laws and rituals are still being applied, however, they have become as incomprehensible as Latin used by ancient monks or the regulations of the church. Through the texts of Baltzar, the vitality of living culture and similarly, the fruitful contradictions and confrontations, when two cultures are melting into one, present themselves.”

Matti Kanervala, Varkauden lehti, 1990

“The novel has its own appeal, a dream-like touch that keeps one hungry. The Black Tango is like mysterious, anguished song that in distinct sequences will evolve into penetrating truth. A dichotomy between so called proper people, the majority, and under-culture form the spine of the novel - Baltzar in his own way brings forth this ever on-going aching conflict.”

Marita Pere, Lšnsi-Suomi 23/9/90

“Baltzar must know, what he writes about. He captures emotions of the tribe and everyday tensions alike. If the picture is gloomy and without comfort, the fault is by no means the author’s.”

Vantaa 8/10/90

“Baltzar is fierce, yet not vulgar. He does not express the ugly word as it is. The novel is characterized by the richness of its dialogue, talkativeness, on the basis of which one can sense anxiety, fear and restlessness. Such state, in which one finds it difficult, if not completely impossible to form a genuine and lasting relationship, where the other person is not being abused. Baltzar is at his best when depicting this practice of exploitation, ‘the boss and the subordinate’, without commercial register and book keeping. It is black business that survives in the concrete jungle of the streets: such jungle, in which one will evidently end up colliding with the society.”

Esko Palviainen, Lieksan lehti 25/1/91