From Publishers Weekly
When Eberstadt began knocking on doors in the Gypsy district of Perpignan, France, she thought she was going to write a book about a band: the renowned Gypsy rumba group Tekameli. The band's 1999 album Ida y Vuelta
had made its members superstars in Europe. If she didn't land a meeting soon, Eberstadt feared, the group might abandon little Perpignan for "somewhere northern, rich, and cold"—New York, Paris, London—before she could ever find them. But when she finally befriended lead singer Moise Espinas, Eberstadt realized she'd worried over nothing—Tekameli will never leave Perpignan, at least not for fame or money. Everything they love is bound to the city's most rundown district, St. Jacques. "I have never been anywhere, including New York's Bowery in the 1970s, where you see more black eyes," Eberstadt writes. As she became more familiar with Espinas's wife and friends, her project evolved into something more difficult to categorize. Like Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family
, Eberstadt's book reveals the values of an impoverished subculture by following the lives of a complex, loving family; it also includes enough Gypsy history to satisfy any flamenco or Gypsy rumba fan. A critically acclaimed novelist (The Furies
, etc.), Eberstadt proves herself a master of nonfiction as well. (Mar.)
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What began as an attempt to document the fortunes of a successful Gypsy rumba band quickly turned into something much broader for novelist Eberstadt (The Furies,
. After moving outside the French town of Perpignan--home to the largest Gypsy population in Western Europe--Eberstadt, a fan of Gypsy music, undertook a quest to interview members of the renowned Gypsy band Tekameli. After 18 months of rebuffs, she finally managed to wangle an invitation to visit with Tekameli's lead singer, Moise Espinas, inside his home. Personally introduced to the elusive Gypsy culture, she does readers a tremendous service by providing them with an intimate glimpse into the vibrant social life, customs, and music of one of the world's most reviled, misunderstood, and richly textured societies. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved