GODDAM GYPSY by Ronald Lee


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An extremely interesting ""autobiographical novel"" by a Canadian-born and partly Gazhe (non-Gypsy) raised member of that unvocal and unorganized (most Gypsies can't read), semi-invisible (the men ""pass"" as Spanish, Hungarian, or Italian to get work) but much oppressed minority, the estimated 12 million people of the Rom nation. The novel begins after the author leaves his wife and clerk job to rediscover his roots on the road, where he meets Kolia, a traveling pot-mender, with whom he works for two years until he encounters the Indian girl he later marries. This is an honest? non-apologetic account of the outsider among outsiders (Gypsies were persecuted by both the Fascists and Communists), of the inevitable poverty and drunkenness as the police close up the fortunetelling joints (which the author cheerfully admits are tourist ripoffs) and of the Mafia takeover of the used ear dealing and fencing of stolen goods, eliminating the Gypsies' final sources of economic support. (""Gypsies are chiselers, not thieves"" the author explains.) The lack of interest in the author's Gypsy dictionary and failure to gain support for the establishment of a Romanestan nation similar to Israel are always there behind the parties, fights, and camaraderie; so are the mixed feelings of a man who wants neither to fight nor be assimilated as he sails with his family to Europe while the bombs of the Quebec libre movement fall literally and symbolically around him.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1972
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill