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.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995 Release date: 10/01/1995 Genre: Nonfiction
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