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[From the book jacket] "Ironic, playful, and multilayered, winner of three major prizes for the best Yugoslav novel of 1988, this beguiling novel-about-a-novel is set at an international literary conference in Zagreb. It begins with the death of an anti-Franco poet who slips into the pool of the intercontinental Hotel and continues with a rapid and entertaining chain of events involving espionage, sexual intrigue, murder, and a good deal of one-upmanship among the assembled academics. " "In the style of David Lodge, the novel is filled with colorful characters and hilarious scenes; but amid the lighthearted action Ugresic provides a serious and doubly outsidered perspective on the differences between the worlds of Eastern Europe and the West. Through the eyes of her Yugoslav and Russian characters Ugresic expresses the incredulity that many in Eastern Europe felt at the Western tendency to romanticize the "communist" world; simultaneously, through her American character, she explodes many of the myths of the West in the minds of Eastern Europe. In addressing issues of mutual cultural misunderstanding without attempting to impose artificial solutions to the problems, Ugresic has produced a truly successful multicultural novel"
Having fled the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, Tanja Lucic is now a professor of literature at the University of Amsterdam, where she teaches a class filled with other young Yugoslav exiles, most of whom earn meager wages assembling leather and rubber S&M clothing at a sweatshop they call the "Ministry." Abandoning literature, Tanja encourages her students to indulge their "Yugonostalgia" in essays about their personal experiences during their homeland's cultural and physical disintegration. But Tanja's act of academic rebellion incites the rage of one renegade member of her class--and pulls her dangerously close to another--which, in turn, exacerbates the tensions of a life in exile that has now begun to spiral seriously out of control.
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