A New York Times Editors' Choice
These essays are written on the skin of the times. Dubravka Ugresic, winner of the Neustadt International Prize and one of Europe’s most influential writers, with biting humor and a multitude of cultural references—from La La Land and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to tattoos and body modification, World Cup chants, and the preservation of Lenin’s corpse—takes on the dreams, hopes, and fears of modern life. The collapse of Yugoslavia, and the author’s subsequent exile from Croatia, leads to reflections on nationalism and the intertwining of crime and politics. Ugresic writes at eye level, from a human perspective, in portraits of people from the former Eastern Bloc, who work as cleaners in the Netherlands or start underground shops with products from their country of origin.
A rare and welcome combination of irony, compassion, and a sharp polemic gaze characterizes these beautiful and highly relevant essays.
Winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
“It takes a stranger to see how dark this world is: Dubravka Ugresic is that stranger.”—Joseph Brodsky
“Like Nabokov, Ugresic affirms our ability to remember as a source for saving our moral and compassionate identity.”—John Balaban, Washington Post
“A genuinely free-thinker, Ugresic’s attachment to absurdity leads her down paths where other writers fear to tread.”—The Independent
“As long as some, like Ugresic, who can write well, do, there will be hope for the future.”—New Criterion
“Ugresic’s wit is bound by no preconceived purposes, and once the story takes off, a wild freedom of association and adventurous discernment is set in motion. . . . Ugresic dissects the social world.”—World Literature Today
“Never has a writer been more aware of how one narrative depends on another.”—Joanna Walsh
“Ugresic is unbeatable at explaining the inexplicable entanglements of Balkan cultural traditions, particularly as they relate to the hellish position of women.”—Clive James
“Ugresic is also affecting and eloquent, in part because within her quirky, aggressively sweet plot she achieves moments of profundity and evokes the stoicism innate in such moments.”—Mary Gaitskill
“Ugresic must be numbered among what Jacques Maritain called the dreamers of the true; she draws us into the dream.”—New York Times
“Dubravka Ugresic is the philosopher of evil and exile, and the storyteller of many shattered lives.”—Charles Simic