Little Money Street is unlikely to make many readers want to rush off and join them, and in any case it's probably too late. The outside world they so resent and fear is closing in on them, with its various seductions and entrapments, and the boundaries within which the Gypsies have kept themselves are beginning to wither away. This may or may not be a good thing, but it is good to have this book as evidence of the life that once they led.
The Washington Post
When Eberstadt began knocking on doors in the Gypsy district of Perpignan, France, she thought she was going to write a book about a band: the renowned Gypsy rumba group Tekameli. The band's 1999 album Ida y Vuelta had made its members superstars in Europe. If she didn't land a meeting soon, Eberstadt feared, the group might abandon little Perpignan for "somewhere northern, rich, and cold"-New York, Paris, London-before she could ever find them. But when she finally befriended lead singer Moise Espinas, Eberstadt realized she'd worried over nothing-Tekameli will never leave Perpignan, at least not for fame or money. Everything they love is bound to the city's most rundown district, St. Jacques. "I have never been anywhere, including New York's Bowery in the 1970s, where you see more black eyes," Eberstadt writes. As she became more familiar with Espinas's wife and friends, her project evolved into something more difficult to categorize. Like Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family, Eberstadt's book reveals the values of an impoverished subculture by following the lives of a complex, loving family; it also includes enough Gypsy history to satisfy any flamenco or Gypsy rumba fan. A critically acclaimed novelist (The Furies, etc.), Eberstadt proves herself a master of nonfiction as well. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gypsies are often viewed as outsiders, their closed communities the source of much derision. The city of Perpignan, France, is home to one such group of Gypsies, which novelist Eberstadt (The Furies; Isaac and His Devils) befriends. In this nonfiction work, she tells the story of their interactions. While her interest begins with the music-the celebrated "Gypsy rumba" band Tekameli formed in Perpignan-Eberstadt ultimately becomes more engaged with, and indeed writes more about, the current Gypsy culture and mores and the effects of modern life on the new generations in Perpignan. Presented as a series of encounters and experiences, this book offers readers what is certainly a Western perspective on Gypsy life, but one that is stripped of judgment or reinforcement of traditional stereotypes. While other insider accounts have been written about closed Gypsy communities, Eberstadt's book distinguishes itself through its treatment of subjects not addressed elsewhere. Recommended for travel collections and collections on Gypsy life.-Sheila Kasperek, Mansfield Univ. Lib., PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Stark, sensitive study of modern gypsies, who are as vibrantly resilient yet tragically vulnerable within Europe's welfare-powered gristmill of political indifference. A novelist (The Furies, 2005) whose portrayals of Manhattanite culture mavens have evoked comparison to Tom Wolfe, Eberstadt spent several years living with her husband and two children on a vineyard in Roussillon, France, outlying the city of Perpignan. From this vantage, she pursues her fascination with gypsy music-a la the Catalonian Gypsy Kings, a "world music" genre sensation in the late '90s-and an obsession to understand its roots. It's a rewarding mission for venturesome readers; even American aficionados of gypsy song, dance and musicianship (principally Andalusian flamenco) rarely penetrate an aesthetic mystique that remains defiantly resistant to conformity. Accepted as a friend by a Perpignan gypsy couple (unwed) and their children, the author studiously builds a dossier of anecdotal insights on the perplexing and often sad contradictions of gypsy life. Regimentation of women, for example, can be extreme; gypsy men strive to marry virgins-often demanding proof as part of the ceremony-then many simply take a mistress, usually French, on the side while their wives are discouraged or intimidated from having any social life outside the home. On the other hand, Eberstadt observes, strict exclusion of women from rites among male relatives that now include shooting up drugs around the kitchen table with shared needles is probably what has kept AIDS from ravaging gypsy women and children to the extent it has in Africa. Gypsy kids, meanwhile, traditionally spoiled and doted on, face lives shortened by obesity andmalnutrition as recipients of an irresistible-to their mothers-largesse of candy, soft drinks and junk food. Eberstadt's sympathetic overview projects a gypsy future possibly as bleak as its obscure antiquity. Richly descriptive narrative shapes and reveals a collective soul that drives the gypsy musicians' natural virtuosity.
“Little Money Street is a fascinating journey into this secret nation, rich with detours and through a hidden corner of the world.”
—The Seattle Times
“In Eberstadt’s talented hands the sojourn becomes an intriguing look at the mores of a mysterious and maligned subset of Europe’s underclass, a fascinating freeze-frame of a fading culture.”
“[Eberstadt] has made her way into Gypsy life far enough to bring back telling, often touching stories.”
—The Boston Globe
“A passionate personalized portrait of a people whose soulfulness surges through the raw wails of their flamencos, rumbas, and fandangos.”