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The Ministry of Painby Dubravka Ugresic
"It may seem as if The Ministry of Pain is yet another book taking advantage of the notoriety of the former Yugoslavia and its recent, bloodthirsty war, but that is not the case here. At least not entirely." Tomislav Kuzmanović, The Iowa Review (read the entire review from The Iowa Review)
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
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 Ministry of Pain] is a disturbing read that should have you in its thrall.” The Times (London)
“Ugresic's cunning, subtle technique is at its most powerful here.” The Independent (London)
“This edgy, extraordinary novel...offers universal insights into what it is like to lose home, nationality and language.” The Sunday Times (London)
“[A] powerful novel of ideas.” Time Out New York
“The Ministry of Pain is a masterly novel.” Harper's Magazine
“Soulful, often searing....This is a work that comes from the gut, one that deserves to be read.” New York Times Book Review
“Splendidly ambitious....She is a writer to follow. A writer to be cherished.” Susan Sontag
“Ugresic must be numbered among what Jacques Maritain called the dreamers of the true; she draws us into the dream.” New York Times
“Like Nabokov, Ugresic affirms our ability to remember as a source for saving our moral and compassionate identity.” Washington Post
“This sorrowful tale packs a powerful punch.” Booklist
“The Ministry of Pain is a shiningly weird and powerful novel...[it] approaches perfection.” Washington Post
The Ministry of Pain tells the story of Tanja Lucic', an exile from Yugoslavia and a lecturer in Serbo-Croatian literature at the University of Amsterdam. Her class is filled with other Yugoslav exiles, not much younger than she, who have found temporary refuge in the Department of Slavonic Languages. Rather than teach literature, Tanja prods the students to reconstruct their pasts by writing essays that indulge their "Yugonostalgia" and their memories of Yugoslavia's culture and disintegration in war. Meanwhile, Tanja and her student Igor form a dangerously close relationship that threatens to unleash all the tensions of life in exile. With her sharp and melancholy observations, Dubravka Ugresic illuminates with savage compassion our shared human homelessness.
About the Author
An acclaimed novelist and essayist, Dubravka Ugresic is a native of the former Yugoslavia who left her homeland in 1993 for political reasons. She now lives in Amsterdam.
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