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Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey Paperback – Oct 29 1996

41 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Oct. 29 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067973743X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679737438
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #138,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Inside This Book

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USUALLY ON MY journeys in Eastern Europe I traveled alone and made friends along the way. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By A Customer on March 10 2010
Format: Paperback
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.
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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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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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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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