American Gypsy: A Memoir

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jul 3, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages

A vivid and funny memoir about growing up Gypsy and becoming American

Fifteen-year-old Oksana Marafioti is a Gypsy. This means touring with the family band from the Mongolian deserts to the Siberian tundra. It means getting your hair cut in "the Lioness." It also means enduring sneering racism from every segment of Soviet society. Her father is determined that his girls lead a better, freer life. In America! Also, he wants to play guitar with B. B. King. And cure cancer with his personal magnetism. All of this he confides to the woman at the American embassy, who inexplicably allows the family entry. Soon they are living on the sketchier side of Hollywood.

What little Oksana and her sister, Roxy, know of the United States they've learned from MTV, subcategory George Michael. It doesn't quite prepare them for the challenges of immigration. Why are the glamorous Kraft Singles individually wrapped? Are the little soaps in the motels really free? How do you protect your nice new boyfriend from your opinionated father, who wants you to marry decently, within the clan?

In this affecting, hilarious memoir, Marafioti cracks open the secretive world of the Roma and brings the absurdities, miscommunications, and unpredictable victories of the immigrant experience to life. With unsentimentally perfect pitch, American Gypsy reveals how Marafioti adjusted to her new life in America, one slice of processed cheese at a time.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - readerspeak - LibraryThing

Marafioti's story is enjoyable for many reasons: It's not only about the immigrant experience, but a coming of age story too. This history of Marafioti's Romani/Armenian heritage, her elders, was ... Read full review

AMERICAN GYPSY: A Memoir

User Review  - Kirkus

In this engaging immigrant memoir, first-time author Marafioti, née Kopylenko, describes with humor and introspection how the self-described "Split Nationality Disorder" she experienced growing up ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Oksana Marafioti moved from the Soviet Union when she was fifteen years old. Trained as a classical pianist, she has also worked as a cinematographer.

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