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, languages, rites and lore? What if this "dying out" is encouraged by the dominating and ethnocentric majorities who "host" such disappearing cultures? Where are the borders distinguishing multiculturalism from assimilation, or isolation from community?
Such prescient questions are threaded through Isabella Fonseca's fascinating journalistic exploration of Gypsy (or Roma) culture in Europe. Fonseca spent four years among various Gypsy neighbourhoods, villages and traveling caravans from Albania and Romania to Germany and France. Her graceful and spare prose flows without sentimentality between vivid detail of family life in the city slums, heartfelt insight into the beauty and dark realities of the culture, and devastating social analysis.
This is a wonderful read -- a thorough, realist, engaging insight into a very misunderstood people.