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Little Money Street: In Search of Gypsies and Their Music in the South of France Hardcover – March 14, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037541116X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375411168
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,675,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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, 2003). 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 Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Gypsy culture is a misunderstood, fascinating ,sad and rich culture that is explored with keen insight by author Fernanda Eberstadt;she presents all facets, warts and all. The pretext for writing this book was the exploration of the music of the Perpignan band Tekameli Religious Gypsy Songs who reside in southern France, specifically in the Gypsy homeland of St. Jacques which is a section of Perpignan, home of the largest Gypsy population in Western Europe. She uprooted her family for her project and the result is an investigative bit of journalism that is part history, part social commentary and all appreciation for a culture that is a paradox. Eberstadt's writing style is entertaining and keeps the account of her life among the Gypsies completely enthralling. Her descriptions of daily life and the characters involved brings everything to life. Her year and a half exploration is funneled into snippets of time that stretch the duration, revealing glimpses into a secret society that lives on the fringes of society, complete with outcasts comes all the epidemics associated with poverty; drugs, alcoholism and AIDS are just some of the afflictions affecting these outsiders. There is no romantic vision drawn by the author but rather a vivid portrayl as close to real life as you can get without being there I suppose. She befriends the lead singer of Tekameli, Moise and his wife Diane and a cast of characters that all seem to interrelated in her quest for learning more about Gypsies. Along the way she makes friends with various family members, learns about their childrens prearranged marriages and lots of other familial practices.Read more ›
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this book because I lived in Spain for a few years as a young adult where I learned to despise gypsies. I grew up in New York and was never mugged or had my pocket picked, yet, in Spain, I was mugged and pick-pocketed -- by gypsies.

I read Little Money Street hoping to learn something about the gypsy culture that would make me more sympathetic to them, but that didn't happen: Ms. Eberstadt summed it up when she wrote that the gypsies of Little Money Street pride themselves on being illiterate and uneducated, unable to get their kids to school in spite of the government bending over backwards to accommodate them, yet, somehow they are able to avail themselves of every government handout, which requires that they fill out mountains of complicated paperwork. Not a culture worthy of admiration.

I give the book two stars because it was well-written and interesting, but I won't be rushing off to ingratiate myself upon any gypsy family anytime soon.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gitano on June 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A somewhat random disjointed description of gypsy life in southern France. The author romanticizes the sad squalid existence of a culture in decline. The gypsy neighborhood reminds me of an Indian reservation in the southwest USA. The book is 'OK' but not enthralling.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Diana Bocco

NYC socialist Fernanda Eberstadt moved to Perpignan, France with her family in 1998. She arrived without many expectations besides a quiet countryside life and the chance to work on her new book (she was already an acclaimed novelist at the time). What she found there was a rich cultural life that changed everything she ever thought true about Gypsy life and culture. A fan of Gypsy music, Eberstadt soon found herself tracking the roots of Gypsy band Tekameli, whose members still lived and worked in the area. The internationally acclaimed band had maintained a local focus, surrounding themselves with only their own culture and thus pushing popularity, fame and richness away.

I've always been fascinated by Gypsy culture, and I truly hoped the book would shed some light on the mystery of a culture that has evaded classification and stayed outside mainstream society for centuries. While Eberstadt does delve into the lives of the Gypsies she meets, her observations are often too superficial to explain anything. We soon learn that gypsies don't send their children to school, don't allow girls to mix with boys (not even to talk), consider working a "disease of modern society" and are proud to live on welfare their whole lives.

What we never learn is how the author (or even the Gypsies themselves) feels about this. Because this is a memoir, I was expecting strong emotions throughout it, but Eberstadt seems to turn a blind eye to the abuse, the alcoholism and the teen marriages that occur all around her. She lacks the passion to react to what happens, and at some point in the narrative even drifts away from everybody without giving us any good reason for it.
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