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April 17, 1980

“The more they talked, the more they wanted to talk; a dependency was created,” New Yorker correspondent Jane Kramer ’59 said in Josselyn House about the “outsiders in Europe” who were the subjects of her forthcoming book, Unsettling Europe (1980). Appearing under the auspices of the Vassar Journalism Forum and the multidisciplinary American Culture Program, Kramer described the four essays in her book: “The Pied Noir,” about a family of North Africans of French origin who returned to live in France; “The Uganda Asians,” a study of an Asian family, the Hassans, living in London after their expulsion by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin; “The Invandrare,” the story of the Predags, friendless Yugoslavs who had lived and worked in Sweden for eleven months a year for eight years while attempting to build a home in their Serbian village; and “The San Vincenzo Cell,” about the elderly Italians Mario and Anna Cecchi, who, after sharing a stone farmstead with sheep and goats for 30 years, were attempting to retire nearby into a small new cement-block house.

Kramer also spoke to some English classes about her book The Last Cowboy (1977), the story of Henry Blanton, a 40-year old Texas cowboy whose lifelong adherance to the storied ways of his work was providing only grim satisfaction. Telling the students that she tended to write about people who were in “disequalibrium with their environments,” she said that, in writing about Blanton, “I tried to analyze the malaise people of my generation felt in the 70s. I felt a sense of failed promise, and this attracted me to the cowboy. I think that’s what he began to symbolize for me.”

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