“Bury me Standing: the Gypsies and their Journey” by Isabel Fonseca

buryTraveling 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.

-Library Journal, Rena Fowler,
Humboldt State Univ., Arcata, Cal.

Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing is the result of a four-year study of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe. Visiting dozens of Roma (Gypsy) communities in the former Eastern bloc, Fonseca is amazed by their ability to survive. For these are a people “without a written tradition,” or “a sense of historical past”; they are “a book without an author.” They are without a national identity or a homeland, nor do they appear to desire either. For centuries the Roma have been the targets of slanderous prejudgments, the scapegoats when economically desperate nationalists have turned to violence, and the victims of the “devouring,” the Nazi purge of a half-million Gypsies, whom they found “unworthy of living.” Fonseca describes her poignant encounters with Albanian Gypsy families, with Bulgarian women trapped by both their own communities and the surrounding society, and with Romanian communities burned in modern-day pogroms. This study is an account of who the Gypsies are, how they have come to be this way, and where they seem to be headed.