Monthly Archives: April 2012

Gypped? As a title? Really, Simon and Shuster?

Author Carol Higgins Clark has made a fine career writing mysteries with one-word titles, such as Mobbed, Wrecked, Cursed, Zapped, Burned, etc. Her latest book, however, is titled with an ethnic slur: Gypped. “Gypped” is a racist slur derived from the word “Gypsies” (See below), itself a negative name used for the Romani people. It implies that all Roma are venal and dishonest. Protests are following the author around the countryside as she promotes the book.

I am Romani, and I take this matter seriously; I wish the publishing industry would do the same. And I am asking for your help in getting to that point.

We trace our ancestry to India. Our people have been in diaspora since wars and disease drove our ancestors from their homes in the eleventh century. We are not laughing, and we’re not entertained, by Carol Higgins Clark’s not-so-clever word play. Known commonly as Gypsies, a name given to us by Europeans, who thought our ancestors came from Egypt, we call ourselves Roma or Romanies, names from our own language. Roma, among the world’s poorest and most oppressed minorities, today face pogroms, deportations, and a rising level of violence, including murders, from neo-Nazi groups, who have lately been heard to chant “Gypsies to the gas chambers!” at demonstrations throughout Europe, terrifying people who remember the one to two million Roma who died in the Holocaust  (called O Porrajmos in our language.)

The dangerous stereotyping of Roma/Gypsies as inherently criminal, wild, and violent, leads in the USA to Romani people being followed and harassed in stores and schools, bullied in school, and targeted in other ways by a society that uses the term “Gypsy” and its verb, “gypped,” only in a negative and harmful way.

When a popular author uses such a slur to sell her books, she singles out our people as targets. Recently, she apologized with these words:

“I am truly sorry for any offense caused by using the word ‘Gypped’ as the title of my book. It was a familiar word since childhood which no one I knew associated with its origin. Since this issue arose, I’ve asked many people who also had no idea of any negative connotation. Again, I apologize.”

That’s better than a spit in the eye, but not yet enough. I would think a famous author would check the dictionary on any word “familiar since childhood.” The list of offensive words no longer used since I was a child is very long, indeed. You can probably think of a few, thanks to the civil rights, women’s, and gay liberation movements.

An apology is one thing; repudiation is what is called for here. Rromani Zor, a civil rights group being organized for the Romani people, is calling for the publisher to recall and retitle this book, for bookstores and libraries to refuse to stock or shelve it until this happens, and for the author to support us in this effort. (Fair disclosure: I am on the board.) You can help, too. See below. 

Read about some of the ways that Roma have been the targets of discrimination here:


Help us get this book pulled from libraries and bookstores, and retitled, at the very least, by its publisher, the venerable Simon and Shuster, who should know better!

Here’s how you can help:

1.  Leave the author a comment on her web page at

or on her Facebook page:

2. If you can help with informational pickets to spread information about why the word “gypped” is an ethnic slur, please contact Rromani Zor at for materials that can be easily copied.

3. If you can’t make the event but would like to let the bookstore/library know how you feel, please use the contact information below each event.

April 24, 2012

Book Soup



Apr 24, 2012

7:00 pm

Book Soup

8818 Sunset Blvd.

W. Hollywood, CA

Phone 310-659-3110

Leave a comment on the bookstore’s Facebook page at

April 26, 2012

Mysterious Galaxy



Apr 26, 2012

7:00 pm

Mysterious Galaxy

7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite 302

San Diego, CA

Phone 858-268-4747

Leave a comment on the bookstore’s Facebook page at


April 28, 2012



Apr 28, 2012

9:00 am

Wegman’s Market

2100 Marlton Pike W

Chery Hill, NJ

Phone: (856) 488-2700

Also April 28, 2012

Carol Higgins Clark will be the speaker at the annual Friends of Doylestown Library’s Luncheon at Warrington Country Club on 4/28/12. Tickets are $40 each and will be on sale at the library on April 2-7 for members of the Friends group & from April 9-23 for the general public.EVENT DETAILS

Apr 28, 2012

12:00 pm — 2:00 pm

Bucks County Library Center

150 South Pine Street

Doylestown, PENNSYLVANIA 18901

(215) 348-9081

Leave a copy on the library’s Facebook page at

You may also leave comments on the book’s Amazon page at

4. Ask your local bookstore or library not to stock this book:

Product Details

Scribner, April 2012

Hardcover, 224 pages

ISBN-10: 1439170312

ISBN-13: 9781439170311


5. Ask the publisher, Simon and Shuster, to recall and retitle the work.


Toll free: (866) 248-3049


Leave them a comment on their Facebook page:

Who is ripped off by Gypped?

1gyp noun \ˈjip\. . .Definition of GYP. . .2 a : cheat, swindler b : fraud, swindle


Origin of GYP

probably short for gypsy

First Known Use: 1750


2gyp verb  gyppedgyp·ping Definition of GYP: cheat


Synonyms: beat, bilk, bleed, cheat, chisel. . .victimize. . . .






A ripoff; something that is not worth what your are giving for it; referring to gypsies who make their living off of swindling others.

this add a video





To be ripped off, or to get a bad deal.

“I spent $500.00 more than I should have for that lemon…I got gypped!”

share this add a video





A derogatory term insinuating that Gypsies steal.

Man, you gyped me

Gypsy is the name given to Roma since they appeared in Europe in the thirteenth century, refugees from the widespread warfare that had overtaken their native India as part of the expansion of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Europeans took these newcomers from the East for Egyptians (Egyptian, Egipcian, ‘gypcian, ‘gipcian, gipsy, gypsy) , and feared them because they were not Christians, they had no homeland, and their experiences with slavery and brutal oppression on their path westward had caused them to shun non-Romanies. Laws were passed forcing the Gypsies to move onward, at times penalizing them for their presence with death orders, and forbidding education and employment to the living. This unreasonable hatred culminated in the murder of more than one millions Gypsies/Roma by the Nazis. And the misconceptions and oppression have continued: Today the Roma are Europe’s poorest minority, and neo-Nazis are screaming in the streets of Eastern Europe, “Gypsies to the gas chamber!” In some countries, they are allowed to live only in undesirable areas such as refuse dumps, and they are forcibly deported when they try to find better homes.

To use the word “Gypped” is to feed the stereotypes and hatred!

 For more information, contact:

Gypsies are NOT

  • a lifestyle
  • a set of behaviors
  • a mythical people
  • happy wanderers

We are

  • an ethnic group of Asian Indian origin
  • present on all continents since our diaspora began in the eleventh century
  • organizing
  • claiming our right to be free of racial stereotypes




Carol Higgins Clark can repudiate the word “Gypped”

and speak to her publisher about retitling it.

Simon and Shuster can recall and retitle this book.

Bookstores and libraries can refuse to stock or shelve this book

until its title is corrected.

You, the patron, can refuse to buy until it is retitled.

Everyone has the right to say what they want.

We have the right to be offended and outraged.

Our people who even today are facing pogroms,

neo-Nazi death squads, and more hatred

have the right to live and prosper in peace. 

Help us!

Bards Day

Those darling buds are sure being shaken today. How can one be blue when spring winds are rattling all manner of cages?

No Pulitzer in Fiction? Don’t blame the judges!

What I can say about the Pulitzer Fiction Award controversy is this: Karen Russell’s Swamplandia is an original and worthy nominee. I have not read the other two finalists, chronicled in the article linked below, but I can see why a board comprised of journalists and academics might not be able to meet in the middle, whereas, I suspect, Corrigan, Cunningham, et al, probably could have done so. They did recommend three finalists, as requested, but the Board could not agree on one. A rule change doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Publishers, of course, have reason to rue the loss of post-award sales. Read Russell’s book, anyway. It’s worthwhile, like a lot of other books that have, over the years, been passed up for the final award.

Interesting how these things are covered: Poetry and Fiction Don’t Make WAPO Cover story

Here’s the full list:

Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Arts and Letters

Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, arts and letters announced


Lessons from the Borderlands

Bette Lynch Husted is one of my favorite authors. I am truly excited to begin reading her latest nonfiction work, Lessons from the Borderlands. Below you will find a synopsis and blurbs from other noted authors. Bette’s work will also appear in the upcoming Jane’s Stories IV anthology, which I am co-editing. Expect a review soon. Meantime, consider putting this volume on your library’s wish list. Below you’ll find all the information to do that. Of course, you could just purchase the book from your favorite bookstore and we can have a discussion about it here on Women and Books.

More about Betty: Her book of essays, Above the Clearwater: Living on Stolen Land (OSU Press 2004) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards and the WILLA Award in creative nonfiction. At This Distance: Poems came out two years ago from Wordcraft of Oregon Press. She was a Fishtrap Fellow and received a 2007 Oregon Arts Commission Award.
Lessons from the Borderlands
“Stories can change us,” Bette Lynch Husted says in this brave and compelling memoir about her own life as a poor rural girl who became a college teacher and author. As she tells us how she continually confronted unacknowledged borders of class, gender and race, we realize that true stories such as hers have the potential to change all of us.
Historian Sue Armitage, coeditor of The Women’s West:
Lessons from the Borderlands speaks truth. Truth about the working poor, about class in America, about possibilities and barriers in small town culture in the West. In this book I saw myself and my family, and the stories that have gone largely untold-stories about race and gender and the heroism of ordinary people struggling to live a decent life. It is a brave book, a necessary book, and moreover a beautiful book, rich with the language of poetry and of our Western landscape. Read it, please, and pass it along.
Molly Gloss, author of The Hearts of Horses:
Bette Lynch Husted’s Lessons from the Borderlands leads an impeccable entry into lives along lines long fissured and crosshatched true. Her love of land and living gifts us with tomboy tastes, a black-checkered mackinaw, velveteen, painted welcome doorsteps, partnership, rehabilitation, rushing with whitewater, and circles where halves of bodies merge and baby’s heart beats against our chests. A textbook case, Husted’s formidable sense of reckoning delivers a hearty meal of a story bringing peace to a place a village once renewed. Like the roots called little sisters, we are pulled from our ground and brought to our knees in the wing-brushed walk we share in this tale. This is exactly the story we need to breathe some camaraderie back into our bones. The skeletons in us reach for more and this story settles truths.
Allison Hedge Coke, author of Off-Season, City Pipe
“The truth is, I am trying to change things,” says Bette Lynch Husted. Yet throughout these essays there is no polemical ranting; rather there are small stones set like prayer beads upon the page. These polished stones, the words themselves, examine through a gentle and reasoned voice, a teacher’s voice, the kind of teacher we have all wanted, one who listened as she opened up new a vision on a known, or accepted, world. These stories have components of myth: personal journey, history, and hope. “Who have we been? Who do we want to be? Why are we here? How should we live?” “Do the people who find their way through the world without wading down creek beds simply know the right stories? The ones that will keep them from getting lost?” Husted asks. But her stories are not myth. They convey what it is like to still feel less than, other, apart, not deserving-and how hearing such labels used, and misused, can give us “the feeling that my real self was all wrong” and even limit ourselves. In these essays such limits are not confined to just race, or gender; they include the great unspoken (not spoken of) class divisions. But again we are offered possibilities, more stones to carry; we can listen to one another, we can offer each other stories and truths, about our lives, what we need, what we want. We need to be quiet. We need to listen. Lessons from the Borderlands gives us tools to begin.
ISBN: 978-1-935514-85-5
175 pages, $18.95
Biography & Autobiography : Personal Memoirs
Literary Collections : Essays
Education : Philosophy & Social Aspects

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