Dubravka Ugresic, winner of the Neustadt International Prize and one of Europe's most influential writers, with biting humor and a multitude of cultural references--from La La Land and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to tattoos and body modification, World Cup chants, and the preservation of Lenin's corpse--takes on the dreams, hopes, and fears of modern life.
A major literary voice in Europe, Ugresic brings deep personal insight into the grinding despair and destructive nationalism of post-communist societies, often writing with lively, ironic flair keenly translated by Elias-Bursac. Do Lenin’s mummy, Adele and Croatian unemployment have any business being in the same essay together? In this book, yes. Gladly ... Today, it is striking to read about post-Soviet Europe and recognize ourselves, including the creepy sense of Russia’s unchecked influence in our struggles. Ugresic’s warning is unvarnished.
Ugrešić is most fundamentally an observer, able to reveal the cracks and fissures in our thinking, organizations, and structures, often rearranging their pieces and putting them back together in a way that reveals something foreign—ugly or unexpectedly beautiful (sometimes both), a phenomenon we may have failed to notice. She continues her trademark fastidious and fascinating commentary ... Ugrešić compiles detailed observations into broad, revealing analyses. Many of her best essays are divided into numbered vignettes, often interesting but seemingly gratuitous, until the final section brings them all precisely together ... While Ugrešić’s writing is always crisp, witty, and exacting, her complicated subject matter is also lightened with well-timed humor, allowing the reader a laugh at the expense of those who sorely deserve it ... Ugrešić can be a complicated read for Americans, born into the simple notion that democracy is always golden ... She understands something we don’t.
Dubravka Ugrešić’s newest collection of essays, The Age of Skin (translated from the Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursać), opens with fire ... The Age of Skin is discursive, only just held together by the energy of Ugrešić’s singular voice, and it’s a wonderful introduction to the sixteen essays that follow ... As relentlessly critical as [Ugrešić] can be, she is also tender, endlessly curious, and enjoys the company of others. It’s this rare blend of polemicism and heart that makes Ugrešić such a joy to read. Combined with the fact that she’s wickedly funny ... In The Age of Skin, Ugrešić ruthlessly deconstructs modern life, exposing its basest self, and it’s this vision, her insistence on tearing down façades, on seeing through the innocuous, the outwardly innocent, that has made Ugrešić a formidable cultural critic. She demands that we see deeper, even where we refuse to look.