From the Publisher
"Croatian novelist/essayist Ugresic (The Ministry of Pain, 2006, etc.), now a resident of Amsterdam, offers discerning, sometimes grumpy commentary on a rapidly changing Europeand a rapidly changing world ... Taut, timely pieces by a writer who sees the cosmic in the quotidian."Kirkus Reviews
"Dubravka Ugresic is Walter Benjamin’s Baudelaire, the poetic sojourner who finds himself at the whim of the crowd. She is the flaneur cast into the streets, nowhere at home. And like Baudelaire, Ugresic is a writer in full view of and at odds with the forces of commodity culture, a writer whose mission is to give form to modernity. But if Baudelaire’s poetry is permeated by melancholic doom, Ugresic’s diagnosis of life’s illusory qualities is delightfully judgmental and cheerily pessimistic. Or as she tartly concludes in Nobody’s Home, her new collection of essays, “this book breaks the rules of good behavior, because it bickers.”"NIcole Rudick, Bookforum
"Nobody’s Home is a collection of essays that offers life from the exile’s point of view, with all its tragic absurdities."June Avignone, University of Rochester Currents
In her long career, Ugresic has published several novels (e.g., The Ministry of Pain), but she made her name with her essay collections, which have caused controversy and earned her the admiration of writers and critics abroad. In these latest musings, written over the course of several years, Ugresic leaves no stone unturned and no thought contained, doing what she does best: writing about the human condition through her own experience. Refusing to establish a central theme, she touches upon a wide range of topics: the paradox of multiculturalism, metaphors as our "defense against nightmares," the eerie similarities between capitalism and communism, and ways in which we try to rise hopelessly above our less-than-perfect existence. Along the way, she pays homage to the works of literature that have influenced her own creative process, in an effort to pay "a symbolic literary tax on narcissim" because "writing is not the humblest of vocations." Perhaps not, but Ugresic certainly knows how to balance being a critic with being criticized. Recommended for all libraries collecting cultural criticism.
Croatian novelist/essayist Ugresic (The Ministry of Pain, 2006, etc.), now a resident of Amsterdam, offers discerning, sometimes grumpy commentary on a rapidly changing Europe-and a rapidly changing world. The author admits that she "bickers" throughout this collection composed largely of previously published newspaper columns-and so she does. She rails against the globalization of sex slavery and notes wryly that a former Yugoslav prison for political enemies is now a favorite setting for gay-porn films. She marvels at the vapidity of popular culture: Britney Spears et al., do not come off well; those who care about them come off worse. She chides the Catholic Church for its corruption and wonders, in an essay that begins with the provocative image of Vladimir Putin kissing a fish, at the human yearning for the limelight. She comments continually about the dislocation of people. More than 200,000 Poles populate Ireland; people from the Balkans have scattered everywhere; Amsterdam swells with immigrants from the Middle East. Ugresic finds the flea market a perfect metaphor for a world whose borders are evanescing, and she cites the now-ubiquitous Vietnamese nail salons as evidence of global population shifts. Everywhere, she notes, current residents complain about the influx. The author sprinkles her text with literary allusions, as well. Surprised that a ten-year-old acquaintance has never heard of Anne Frank, she promptly takes him to the family's hiding place in Amsterdam-but notes that many Dutch were eager to turn in Jews for cash. In a very fine essay she explores that recent publishing phenomenon, the memoir, calling it "a kind of literary karaoke." She describes, too, the oddnostalgia that many feel for old communist Europe. Taut, timely pieces by a writer who sees the cosmic in the quotidian.