Literary Las Vegas: Oksana Marafioti

Green Valley resident Oksana Marafioti’s mother was Greek and Armenian, and her father was Ukrainian and Gypsy. She grew up in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At 15, she and her family moved to Hollywood and struggled to adjust to American life while holding onto their Romani culture.

Marafioti shares the story of that transition in "American Gypsy: A Memoir," a book she plans to launch during an afternoon of Gypsy culture from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road. Rounding out the afternoon will be music by Valeria Sokolova, Albina Asryan and Hot Club of Las Vegas, dancers Zarin Standridge, Coral Citron and Amira, and work by artist Elena Pisnaya Wherry.

For more information on the event, visit For more on the author, visit

Excerpt from "American Gypsy: A Memoir"

At my uncle’s house old habits and new converged into a patchwork of delirium. I itched to learn everything at once.

"What is this?"

"A water dispenser. And here’s the ice maker."

"How come your legs are so smooth?"

"In America, girls shave their leg hairs with a razor, and their underarms, too. No one here likes to look like a yeti."

"Our pillowcases don’t fit any of your pillows."

"That’s because pillows here are not square like in Russia. Who makes square pillows nowadays, really! That’s so seventies. Real pillows are rectangular."

When my cousins went to school, Roxy and I watched TV, enraptured by flawless women and men promising instant miracles during the advertisements. I hadn’t realized how many important things our previous existence lacked.

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