Dubravka Ugrešic was born in the former Yugoslavia (Croatia). She is a novelist, essayist, and literary scholar and the author of seven works of fiction and six collections of essays. She has won, or been shorlisted for, more than a dozen prizes, including the NIN Award, Austrian State Prize for European Literature, Heinrich Mann Prize, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Man Booker International Prize, and the James Tiptoe Jr. Award. In 2016, she received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (the “American Nobel”) for her body of work. Ellen Elias-Bursać is an American scholar and literary translator. Specializing in South Slavic literature, she has translated numerous works from Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.
About the book:
Winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature
In the midst of the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, Dubravka Ugresic—winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature—was invited to Middletown, Connecticut, as a guest lecturer. A world away from the brutal sieges of Sarajevo and the nationalist rhetoric of Miloševic, she instead has to cope with everyday life in America, where she’s assaulted by “strong personalities,” the cult of the body, endless amounts of jogging and exercise, bagels, and an obsession with public confession.
Organized as a fictional dictionary, these early essays of Ugresic’s (translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth & Ellen Elias-Bursać, revised and amended for this edition) are as pertinent to today’s America as when they were first published. It’s here, in these pieces filled with Ugresic’s unparalleled wit and devastating observations, that the comforting veil of Western consumerism is ripped apart as the mundane luxuries of the average citizen are contrasted with the life of a woman whose country is being destroyed.