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American Gypsy

A Memoir

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

May 07, 2012 – At 15, Marafioti, granddaughter and daughter of Roma performers, arrives in Hollywood from Russia, encountering culture clash and the rapid disintegration of her family, both rendered with touching, funny, and outlandish details. In the U.S.S.R., she d been part of the upper class and traveled with the act, but was subjected to intense prejudice as a mistrusted gyp. In her new homeland, her father marries his mistress, while Marafioti, her sister, and mother furnish their own apartment scavenging Beverly Hills castoffs and she learns that Gypsies are Stevie Nicksesque bohemians plus history and hatred. It s a source of liberation for her, and for her father and stepmother, who rely on the old ways and become sought-after palm readers. As the best English speaker among them, Marafioti is routinely conscripted into serving as a translator for the readings, even getting dragged to the cemetery to steal dirt for a curse. Her struggles between the two worlds play out daily as she deals with her father s chauvinism and his push for her to join the business and marry one of their own while she s trying to learn English, figure out how to have a Brazilian boyfriend, and get through the immigrant teenage experience. Although her journey would be more satisfying if it went beyond high school, Marafioti has a rich, colorful story about a long misunderstood culture that she treasures, despite some truly antiquated beliefs.

Customer Reviews

Darrell Beam

I simply loved this book! Bravo!

American Gypsy

Simply captivating. The author makes you feel as though you are a part of the family, as she walks through becoming American while learning to appreciate her own culture. So much more than a coming of age tale; you will fall in love with her eclectic tales and it will leave you wanting more.

Great read!

An honest and heartfelt read. Would love to know what happened next!

American Gypsy
View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jul 03, 2012
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings