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Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey [Paperback]

Isabel Fonseca
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 29 1996 Vintage Departures
Isabel Fonseca describes the four years she spent with Gypsies from Albania to Poland, listening to their stories, deciphering their taboos, and befriending their matriarchs, activists, and child prostitutes. A masterful work of personal reportage, this volume is also a vibrant portrait of a mysterious people and an essential document of a disappearing culture. 50 photos.

Frequently Bought Together

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey + Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies
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Product Description

From Amazon

They travel endlessly and seem to appear almost everywhere, yet they are the world's most mysterious people: Gypsies. Isabel Fonseca has done the impossible, entering into their world, living and traveling with Gypsies during several long trips to Eastern Europe, and she has brought back an insightful, highly personal, and very readable account of who the Gypsies are and how they live. The Gypsies have a legendary aversion to "gadje," or outsiders, but Fonseca has lifted the curtain and written gracefully about their lives on the edge of society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

An exploration of the frequently persecuted and misunderstood Gypsy population of eastern Europe.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
USUALLY ON MY journeys in Eastern Europe I traveled alone and made friends along the way. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond stereotypes Dec 23 2001
Format:Paperback
This book opens with a chapter on the great Romany poet, Papusza (born as Bronislawa Wajs), which appeared earlier in The New Yorker. As Fonseca tells us, Papusza wrote a long autobiographical ballad about hiding in the forests during World War II--"Bloody Tears: What We Went Through Under the Germans in Volhynia in the Years 43 and 44." Discovered by the Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski in 1949, Papusza also wrote of the Jewish experience and "the vague threat of the gadjikane" (non-Gypsy) world." But her 1987 death in Poland, where she had lived most of her life, went unnoticed.
That is an appropriate beginning, for this book is not academic anthropology--and it more than admirably explains, from the Roma point of view, what it means to live in a world that remains largely threatening to the Roma. The book is not uniformly complimentary. But Fonseca lived for a period with Roma families, learned their separate and distinct Romany language, traveled across Eastern Europe with them, observed the poverty-stricken ghettos and mud hovels in which the poorest made their beds. And one finds in her closeness to them a sympathy altogether lacking in many other works.
Fonseca writes of her own extensive experience, of course, but also refers to more than 140 scholars, including the fine work of Rom professor Ian Hancock and Jan Yoors. The latter likewise lived among Roma, albeit during the pre-war and World War II eras.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An important book, but readability suffers Oct. 31 2000
By CJ
Format:Paperback
I'm glad I read this book -- it is an often-fascinating portrait of a world I knew nothing about. Despite the biases noted by other reviewers, I think the author's exhaustive search for material, both through literature and live observation, has paid off. This culture doesn't document itself, so as an ethnographic work, I think it's very welcome, warts and all. Unfortunately, I found the book tiresome at several points and irksome in other ways. I didn't expect Pulitzer-level writing, but a lot of the book read like it was dictated and transcribed without editing or organization. She seemed to expect a level of basic knowledge or just didn't bother to explain certain things, and it made it tough to get into the book initially. Maybe I'm dense, but it took me about 20 or 30 pages to figure out the difference between Rom, Romani, and Roma. If the author didn't want to break up her narrative, a glossary would've been nice. Finally, the book veered, often jarringly, between a sophisticated sociopolitical study of the Gypsies, a putdown of Eastern Europe, and a chatty magazine article. I was actually more put off by her apparently sneering tone in several cases than her pro-Gypsy bias. You can report that people appear childlike by American standards without acting like you're the prom queen and they're the wallflowers. Bottom line: If you think the topic is interesting and have time, read it. But I'd hesitate to push the book on people who want a "good read," which is too bad. I think this author can be a major writer in the future if she can self-edit or turn her work over to a good editor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book Aug. 27 2000
Format:Hardcover
Fascinating book on one of the "persecuted" minorities. The American author, who has both Jewish and Gypsy blood, attempts to paint a positive picture of the Gypsies but instead shows the generalizations about them to be true.
They live by lying, cheating, and swindling non-Gypsies, whom they call Gadje; by importing; by selling used cars; and by welfare. Rarely do they perform physical labor, which they abhor.
Up to 50% of the men are in prison. Women marry at 12 or 13 and thereafter are condemned to long days of domestic work and producing as many babies as possible while the men do virtually nothing.
Consistent with the Gypsy stereotype, they do carry large wads of money or gold, have disgusting personal habits, and are extremely superstitious.
The author follows these dark-skinned aliens from the tenth century, when they left India, to their arrival in Europe in the fourteenth century, to the current day.
Today in many Eastern European countries local villagers are virtually at war with the Gypsies, who were both protected and controlled by the previous, communist governments. Under democratic capitalism the Gypsies have been liberated.
Even when they have lived in one nation for years, they have no loyalty to it, but are loyal only to their families and other Gypsies.
Fonseca weaves the history of the Gypsies with her incriminating, highly interesting observations and anecdotes on Gypsies from having lived with them in several European countries.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone must read June 8 2000
Format:Paperback
By way of explanation for my comment above... I'm not saying this is the greatest book ever written, but it is a `must-read' because it goes some way to filling a huge gap in most people's knowledge of Europe. Fonseca gives a valuable account from the `inside' of a people who have been reviled and abused (or patronised) for centuries. The book is well-written and intricately researched, and provides insights into both Roma customs, and the poltical problems and challenges they face in post-communist Europe.
What gives this book a real resonace for me is the upsurge of anti-Roma racism in Europe. This has reached my country, Britain, with hysterical attacks from the press and politicians against `asylum-seekers' (or refugees, as they used to be called), especially on Roma from East and Central Europe who are labelled as scroungers and beggars. Fonseca's account of the oppression of these people in Romania and elsewhere is a valuable corrective to these myths.
Finally, reading the other reviews, I feel that if Fonseca is being attacked _both_ for being overly sympatheic to the Roma _and_ for being insufficiently sympathetic, she can't be going too far wrong! I felt her book was a `warts and all' account, which doesn't ignore the problems within Roma society, but continually brings the focus back on the systematic racism that they have faced, and still face in Europe today.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars written by a wealthy snob
Fonseca can sure write, but she should really stick to fiction, since most of this is just that. She puts in generalizations about gyspsies, not once thinking to maybe cite her... Read more
Published on March 7 2011 by Sam Reeve
5.0 out of 5 stars The ambiguities of cultural identity
Are dying cultures an irrepressible phenomenon we should learn to accept, however grudgingly, or are we obligated to fight tooth and nail to revive and restore fading traditions,... Read more
Published on March 10 2010 by Kenton L. Eidse
1.0 out of 5 stars Sladerous book
Reading this book I had a sensation that can be well described by the words of the author when she stumbled on a pair of bare-assed middle-aged man in Warsaw. Read more
Published on July 5 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Living with the Gypsies
Isabel Fonseca holds no punches when she writes about the gypsies. The author tells it like it is and makes no excuses for the lifestyle the gypsies choose to live with. Read more
Published on April 26 2004 by William D. Tompkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Them Against the World
The present-day struggles of the Gypsies (or Roma, as they call themselves) are the main focus of this book, especially those of Eastern Europe. Read more
Published on July 3 2003 by doomsdayer520
4.0 out of 5 stars Focuses on Gypsy plight more than history
Whether the author is unfairly blaming Eurpeans and their racism and excusing Gypsy failings, as suggested by another reviewer, is up to the reader to decide. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2003 by BP
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!
This book is one of the best modern overviews of gypsies today, dealing with trials and troubles. The author deals with the situation of the Roma in post-Communist Eastern Europe... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2002 by Amber Hansford
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold, highly creative, brilliant, fascinating
Isabel Fonseca has endeavered on a fascinating task requiring mounds of research and spending hundreds of hours with Roma people. Read more
Published on July 12 2001 by S. Hindman
5.0 out of 5 stars An uncommon view into a secret people
Isabel Fonseca does not write as an anthropologist; she has opinions, and is sometimes quite forthright about her negative feeling. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2001 by Joanna Daneman
4.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Account of Gypsys' Plight
Ms Fonseca presents an accurate and believable picture of the Gypsy lifestyle and present day situation. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2001 by David Zelz
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