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Dubravka Ugrešić
at the
complete review:

biographical | bibliography | quotes | pros/cons | our opinion | links


Name: Dubravka UGRESIC
Nationality: Yugoslavian/Croatian
Born: 27 March 1949
Died: 17 March 2023
Awards: Österreichischer Staatspreis fur Europ. Lit. (1998)
Heinrich Mann Preis (2000)
Neustadt Prize (2016)

  • Studied at the University of Zagreb and Moscow State University
  • Emigrated from Croatia in the early 1990s

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Highlighted titles are under review at the complete review

  • Mali plamen - children's book, 1971
  • Filip i Srecica - 1976
  • Poza za prozu - stories, 1978
  • Nova ruska proza - 1980
  • Stefica Cvek u raljama Zivota - fiction, 1981 (included in In the Jaws of Life)
  • Zivot je bajka - stories, 1983 (included in In the Jaws of Life)
  • Fording the Stream of Consciousness - novel, 1988 (Forsiranje romana-reke, trans. Michael Henry Heim (1993))
  • Kucni duhovi - 1988
  • Mladinska knjiga - 1990
  • In the Jaws of Life - fiction, 1992 (trans. Celia Hawkesworth and Michael Henry Heim, includes Stefica Cvek u raljama Zivota and Zivot je bajka)
  • Have a Nice Day - non-fiction, 1993 (Americki fikcionar, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (1994))
  • The Culture of Lies - non-fiction, 1996 (Kultura lazi, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (1998))
  • The Museum of Unconditional Surrender - novel, 1996 (Muzej bezuvjetne predaje, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (1998))
  • Thank You for Not Reading - non-fiction, 2000 (Zabranjeno citanje, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (2003))
  • Lend Me Your Character - stories (trans. Celia Hawkesworth and Michael Henry Heim, rev. Damion Searls (2005))
  • The Ministry of Pain - novel, 2004 (Ministarstvo boli, trans. Michael Henry Heim (2005))
  • Nobody's Home - non-fiction, 2005 (Nikog nema doma, trans. Ellen Elias-Bursać (2007))
  • Baba Yaga Laid an Egg - novel, 2008 (Baba Jaga je snijela jaje, trans. Ellen Elias-Bursać, Celia Hawkesworth, and Mark Thompson (2009))
  • Karaoke Culture - non-fiction, 2010 (Napad na minibar, trans. David Williams (2011))
  • Europe in Sepia - non-fiction, 2012 (Europa u sepiji, trans. David Williams (2014))
  • Fox - novel, 2017 (Lisica, trans. David Williams and Ellen Elias-Bursać (2018))
  • American Fictionary - non-fiction, 1993 (Americki fikcionar, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (1994) and revised US edition with Ellen Elias-Bursać (2018)
  • The Age of Skin - non-fiction, 2019 (Doba kože 2019, trans. Ellen Elias-Bursać (2020))

Please note that this bibliography is not necessarily complete.
Dates given are of first publication.

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What others have to
say about
Dubravka Ugrešić:

  • "Ugresic is a highly literary writer, a writers' writer who consciously refers to a wide range of European and world literature as well as to popular literary genres. (...) The true Ugresic manner, it would seem, abides in the absurdist sense of life and in the enormously witty humor with which the author deals with pretension." - Jeffrey J. Folks, World Literature Today (Fall/1992)

  • "Virginia Woolf wrote in the prelude to a war, Dubravka Ugreysic in the aftermath of one: both are vivid in their denunciation of destructive forces and in their evocation of what is at stake." - Hugh MacPherson, Times Literary Supplement (16/10/1998)

  • "Since her literary debut in the late 1970s, Ugresic has been recognized as one of the most original and powerful voices in the literature of (the now former) Yugoslavia. Her novels and short stories showed her mastery of an impressive array of techniques. Her unique ability to combine subtle intertextual dialogue with an assertive, independent authorial tone, her readiness to challenge the dogmas of patriarchy and other preconceived notions, as well as her collapsing of the boundaries between high and low genres combined to win her international acclaim (and notoriety in her home country)." - Vitaly Chernetsky, World Literature Today (Fall/1999)

  • "Had there been no war in the former Yugoslavia, Dubravka Ugresic might still be writing comic novels like Fording the Stream of Consciousness, her sendup of the cold war espionage novel, set at a writers' conference, and In the Jaws if Life, her postmodern parody of a romantic novel, in which the search for true love turns up so many ridiculous imitations that when the happy ending comes, one cannot believe in it for a minute. These are delightful books, but times have changed, and there can be no growth without pain. The Culture of Lies and The Museum of Unconditional Surrender are major works of literature by a writer at the top of her powers, one who should be honored for the difficulty of the task she embraces, the complexity of her thought and the simplicity of her tone." - Meredith Tax, The Nation (13/12/1999)

  • "Die 1949 in Zagreb geborene Dubravka Ugresic ist eine scharfsinnige Essayistin und eine Erzählerin, die alle Finten ihres Metiers beherrscht. Am besten aber ist sie, wenn sie als Essayistin erzählt oder als Erzählerin ihre Romane mit luftig leichten Essays unterfüttert." - Karl-Markus Gauß, Die Presse (24/9/2005)

  • "The theme of exile, and an accompanying sense of the complexity of the position, dominates the recent work of Dubravka Ugresic. (...) While Dubravka Ugresic's critical writing is worthy of praise, her novels, The Ministry of Pain especially, suggest the dangers of our ready applause for fictions of exile." - Joanna Kavenna, Times Literary Supplement (30/9/2005)

  • "Such is the sad state of our world today that there are a good many writers who have access to such imagery. Reading The Ministry of Pain, one of the first things you realise, though, is that there are few who handle it as sharply and unfussily as Ugresic. These are the details in which God (and the devil) hides. Ugresic shows as much genius for them in her fiction as she has in her essays, The Culture of Lies (1998), and the recent, marvellous Thank You for Not Reading." - Julian Evans, Sunday Telegraph (16/10/2005)

  • "With all her diligent allusions to the canon, she is, however, a very original writer: less loftily mandarin than some predecessors, more subtle and humane than many contemporaries. Her playful, ironic but sober fictions engage with the grand themes that readers associate with the literatures of her region: love, language; the mythology, and arbitrary imposition, of borders and identities; the nomad's roving imaginative life." - Aamer Hussein, The Independent (18/11/2005)

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Pros and Cons
of the author's work:

  • Light, ironical tone
  • Observant, analytical
  • Presents interesting little stories

  • Writerly preoccupations (specifically: focus on the international writer's life)
  • Likes to indulge in post-modern conceits

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the complete review's Opinion

     Dubravka Ugrešić is a Croatian writer who is very conscious of the global stage. First published when Yugoslavia was still whole (and socialist), her writing has kept close track of the changing role of the writer in the changing societies of the 1980s and 1990s. A writer in exile, an (in many ways) old-style European living outside her language and culture -- and a frequent visitor on campuses and at international conferences --, she has proved particularly adept at showing the transformations the world of the modern intellectual has undergone.
     Fact and fiction are joined in many of her books, even the early fictions: drawing on experiences (often those of being a writer and academic), she uses these for her stories or essay-pieces. She relates events and discusses issues in a light, often amused tone, rarely bogging down in argument or overwhelming the reader. Her books -- even the novels -- tend to be very episodic: a cumulation of bits and pieces.
     She writes engagingly, and we are sympathetic to her themes -- though the focus especially on the writer and his or her role in the world can, on occasion, get tiresome.
     An entertaining, though-provoking writer, easily enjoyed in small (or large) doses.

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Dubravka Ugrešić: Dubravka Ugresic's books at the complete review: See also:

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