Book: American Gypsy
Oksana Marafioti’s parents performed in a traveling Romani ensemble until she was 15, when they moved to America. Growing up, she saw the Mongolian deserts and the Siberian tundra, watched her father get into bar fights with Nazis, learned about sex by sneaking into illicit movies, and endured the hostility of school bullies who would stick pieces of paper on her back that read “Gyp.” But in America, Oksana had a whole new life to get used to, which included rifling through curbside trash in Beverley Hills and wondering if it belonged to George Michael, reading Harlequin romances and using her Russian-American dictionary to decipher the phrase “burning loins,” and trying desperately not to make one of those typical mistakes immigrant families make -- like confusing cat food for canned tuna.
In AMERICAN GYPSY, she takes us through family revelations, cultural misunderstandings, and gives us a never-before-seen look at the realities of what it’s like to be a gypsy – and offers a fine look at the clash of two very different cultures.
Oksana Marafioti was recently awarded the BMI-Kluge Fellowship in partnership with the Library of Congress, a nine-month fellowship program offered to published writers and public intellectuals whose work ranges away from the American experience and into international terrain. Trained as a classical pianist, Marafioti has also worked as a cinematographer. She lives in Las Vegas.