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Bury Me Standing


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About the Author

Isabel Fonseca grew up on New York City. She went to Barnard College and Oxford University before settling in London, where she worked as an editor at the Times Literary Supplement. She has written for the Times, The Guardian, The Economist, Harper's Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and The American Scholar, among other publications. Since its appearance in 1995, the national bestseller Bury Me Standing has been published in twenty-two countries. Fonseca is also the author of a novel, Attachment. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Martin Amis.


In numerous visits to east central Europe, London-based journalist Fonseca has produced an intriguing and affecting portrait of the continent's largest minority. Her first-person narrative meanders, but not inappropriately: the Gypsies are homeless, and they lie zestfully, challenging the author, who remains skeptical despite her sympathy for her subjects. After recounting a summer in the Gypsy quarter of Tirana, Albania, she explores Gypsy history, then profiles women in the deracinated Bulgarian Gypsy culture. The book acquires urgency when Fonseca shows how antipathy toward, and violence against, Gypsies has escalated since the revolutions of 1989; the raw hatred she records is chilling. Meanwhile, western European countries implement harsh policies regarding refugees and ``settling'' the nomadic Gypsies. Unlike Jews, the Gypsies ``have made an art of forgetting'' their persecution (in the Holocaust, etc.); Fonseca sees a glimmer of hope in the fact that Gypsies are beginning to acquire a new collective identity as ``Roma.'' This book gives a vital voice to a group long persecuted and misunderstood. Photos. (Oct.)

Traveling as a journalist, Fonseca stayed with a number of Gypsy families in Eastern Europe between 1991 and 1995. Through her experiences with them, study of the scholarship about them, and interviews with leading figures, she has produced a contemporary account of their status, incorporating details of their society, culture, and history. Her work portrays their commitment to tribal traditions and adherence to ritual and offers good insights, particularly into women's lives. The author regards Gypsies as "an ancient scapegoat" who survive through their traditions and a collective denial of their mistreatment by outsiders, including the Germans during World War II. The author details the discrimination that has kept the Gypsies, now often called Roma, from development of an identity and acceptance by the international community. Fonseca's work will appeal to both interested lay readers and scholars in the field. It belongs in subject collections.-Rena Fowler, Humboldt State Univ., Arcata, Cal.

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