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According to Slavic myth, Baba Yaga is a witch who lives in a house built on chicken legs and kidnaps small children. In Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, internationally acclaimed writer Dubravka Ugresic takes the timeless legend and spins it into a fresh and distinctly modern tale of femininity, aging, identity, and love.With barbed wisdom and razor-sharp wit, Ugresic weaves together the stories of four women in contemporary Eastern Europe: a writer who grants her dying mother's final wish by traveling to her hometown in Bulgaria, an elderly woman who wakes up every day hoping to die, a buxom blonde hospital worker who's given up on love, and a serial widow who harbors a secret talent for writing. Through the women's fears and desires, and their struggles against invisibility, Ugresic presents a brilliantly postmodern retelling of an ancient myth that is infused with humanity and the joy of storytelling.
Dubbed "the fantasy cultural studies professor you never had" by Ruth Franklin, Ugresic has one finger on the pulse of an exhausted Europe, another in the wounds of postindustrial America. From pieces on Zuccotti Park to ones on nostalgia and Dutch housing, she trawls the fallout of political failure and the detritus of popular culture, mining each for revelation.
[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"
Finalist for the NBCC award for Criticism.Whether it's commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache.
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.
The Museum of Unconditional Surrender captures the shattered world of a life in exile. Some chapters re-create the daily journal of the narrator's lonely and alienated mother, who shops at the improvised flea-markets in town and longs for her children; another is a dream-like narrative in which a circle of women friends are visited by an angel. There are reflections and accounts of the Holocaust and the Yugoslav Civil War; portraits of European artists; a recipe for Caraway Soup; a moving story of a romantic encounter the narrator has in Lisbon; descriptions of family photographs; memories of the small town in which Ugresic was raised. Addressing the themes of art and history, aging and loss, The Museum is a haunting and an extremely original novel.
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