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American Gypsy: A Memoir Paperback – July 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374104077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374104078
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Engaging . . . Marafioti describes with humor and introspection how the self-described ‘Split Nationality Disorder’ she experienced growing up only magnified upon her family’s emigration from the former Soviet Union to Los Angeles when she was 15 . . . Marafioti’s probing observation of the contrast of American individualism with fierce Roma ethnocentrism, even xenophobia, yields a provocative exploration of identity. Contrasting cultural values shine in this winning contemporary immigrant account of assimilation versus individuation.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Touching . . . Funny . . . A rich, colorful story about a long misunderstood culture.” —Publishers Weekly

“A most entertaining, informative and worthwhile read . . . American Gypsy is warm and funny—often very funny—and, always, is a revelation.” —Ellen Stirling, Living Las Vegas

“Beyond the usual stereotypes of thieves in caravans, this drama of finding a home at last strikes universal chords, not least with the hilarious family theatrics and the contemporary immigrant mess-ups . . . [A] wry, unforgettable memoir.” —Booklist

American Gypsy is a fun, humorous and sometimes heartbreaking memoir of a teenage Russian immigrant . . . [A] spirited and touching coming-of-age tale.” —Cindi Moon Reed, Vegas Seven

“[Oksana Marafioti’s] witty, often hilarious account of her new life (not quite what MTV had promised) takes us for a ride through an immigrant’s world, presenting the challenges of reconciling boyfriends, fast food, and séances with her family’s strict Roma traditions.” —Annasue McCleave Wilson, Biographile

“An illuminating and unvarnished peek into a much-misunderstood culture, one that’s been plagued for centuries by discrimination and worse. That said, while American Gypsy documents some dark and troubling events, it offers just as many funny and heartwarming moments.” —Geoff Schumacher, Las Vegas CityLife

“Oksana Marafioti’s American Gypsy stands apart . . . A rare firsthand glimpse into the reality of contemporary Romani life.” —Ian Hancock, director of the Program of Romani Studies, the University of Texas at Austin

About the Author

Oksana Marafioti moved from the Soviet Union when she was fifteen years old. Trained as a classical pianist, she has also worked as a cinematographer.


More About the Author

Oksana Marafioti moved from the Soviet Union when she was fifteen years old. Trained as a classical pianist, she has also worked as a cinematographer. Oksana is a past Black Mountain Institute-Kluge Center Fellow in partnership with the Library of Congress.

Customer Reviews

Poignantly written, this is a book I would read again.
hughsfmly
The "plot" of her life is fascinating by itself but it is the writing that makes this work so memorable.
Kruglosutochnui Chris
Once I started reading the book, it was impossible to put down.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Singh on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Reviewed by C. J. Singh (Berkeley, California)
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Oksana Marafioti's coming-of-age memoir succeeds brilliantly at several levels: First of all, it's a gripping read; it shows the marginalized situation of the Romani people in Eastern Europe as experienced by insiders; it shows the lasting contributions of the Gypsy people to European popular music and dance; it shows an immigrant family's struggle to survive in the U.S. of the 1990's; and it presents glimpses of the Gypsy people's journey from India to Europe that began more than a thousand years ago.

To begin with, the term "Gypsy" refers to an ethnicity that originated from the Punjab region of northwest India. The term "Gypsy" is regarded as pejorative by the people it refers to; they prefer to call themselves Romani or Sinti. (So why is the title not American Romani? Publisher's marketing decision? )

Marafioti's memoir nicely complements three well-known books about the Romani people: Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca, a journalist who lived with Romani families in Eastern Europe for five years; All Change!: Romani Studies Through Romani Eyes, edited by Damian Le Bas and Thomas Act; and We Are the Romani People by Ian Hancock, himself of British Romani descent, and professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas, Austin, and widely regarded as the leading scholar of Romani Studies.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. M. SMith on July 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I pre-ordered this book through a local retailer and, lucky for me, they delivered it to me before the release date. I devoured it in less than 24 hours but had to wait until after the release date to post my review for it here on Amazon.

Unlike so many other memoirs, this book is not about placing blame on others, boasting of one's accomplishments, or wallowing in self-pity. With the brilliantly executed purity of a professional documentary, these pages reveal life as an emigrant from the Soviet Union, an uncertain young woman, and a Roma from the perspective of the author.

Oksana Marafioti's raw honesty is both refreshing and heart wrenching at the same time. In this book, American Gypsy, she shares her strongest memories and deepest emotions without ever asking for pity, sympathy, approval, or even understanding from the reader. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the inside of someone else's life - this book will give you that experience and what you take from it will be entirely your own as Oksana makes no attempt to sway you - and that's a good thing!

I absolutely loved this book and no matter how badly I might have needed to at times (when sleep beckoned at 1 a.m., for example) I simply couldn't put it down. I devoured every word; frequently reminding myself that I was reading a reality that someone had actually lived and wanting, with all my heart, for Oksana to have a happy ending while fearing that, because this is reality, she may not. I couldn't wait to get to the final page and yet I never wanted it to end. This is a beautifully crafted work of literary art and will receive a place of respect and admiration on my shelf.

~WaAr
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aunt Helen on June 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Growing up in communist Russia, hiding a Romani heritage, coming to America at 15, and coping with the changes, finding that it doesnt matter here if you are gypsy. A moving personal story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By j.m. Dohanich on October 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Oksana Marafioti is not just a writer she's a wonderful writer and the author of "American Gypsy" an inspiring coming of age memoir. Oksana transitions from the Soviet Union's social structure to Los Angeles, California--Hollywood, yet,--WOW! Discovery of single slice cheese to the embarrassment only a parent can cause a teen (immigrant parents can take this to a special place). She transports us from found and lost love, to moving on especially... moving on.

A personal note: The antidotes in "American Gypsy", breathed life in long ago misplaced memories. A tear, a slight smile, even uproarious laughter, they are there for me, for you. I highly recommend this book. I think all will find it enjoyable, entertaining and most informative about an "American Gypsy". A GREAT READ!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Joy Myers on September 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
American Gypsy takes us into secret worlds--behind the name "gypsy" and all its variations in meaning, and into the multicultural worlds of Eastern Europe, the USSR and finally, Hollywood, which is its own country. Okasana deftly weaves multi-generational stories into her present time narrator as a 15 year old new immigrant who not only traverses the distance between Moscow and California but thousands of miles psychologically, and further bridges generations in her family as the stories unfold about her parents and grandparents. It was fascinating to learn about the history of the Roma, and to learn how her family was different than many in that they were traveling musicians, and considered part of the Roma "upper class." Many parts of the book were humorous, as she maneuvers to learn how to manage America, but not only America, California and Hollywood. We see our culture's odd habits and beliefs through fresh eyes.
When I met Oksana at a memoir conference I learned about her upcoming book, and was eager to read it. I confessed to her that I knew little of gypsies except that they had been rounded up in WWII and executed, and that many people worldwide hated them--then and now. Prejudice is still endured by the Roma, but I didn't expect to experience it at the book reading I attended.

As soon as Oksana began to tell her own story interwoven with historical and cultural information, some people in the back of the room interrupted with prejudicial remarks that at first Oksana deftly turned into more informational discussion, but eventually the people took over the reading, continuing to spew shocking statements of prejudice against the Roma, and the author. They were from Eastern Europe and had brought their biases with them.
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