Lend Me Your Character
by Open Letter
New edition of one of Ugresic's most beloved collections
From the story of Štefica Cvek to "The Kharms Case," the pieces in Lend Me Your Character—comprised on the novella "Štefica Cvek in the Jaws of Life" and the story collection "Lend Me Your Character"—are always smart and endlessly entertaining. The former story paints a picture of a harassed and vulnerable typist whose life is shaped entirely by cliches. She searches endlessly for an elusive romantic love in a narrative punctuated by threadbare advice from women's magazines and constructed like a sewing pattern. The latter story is one of Ugresic's funniest and is about the strained relationship between a persistent translator and an unresponsive publisher.
Added to this new edition are the pieces "How to Ruin Your Own Heroine" (about Śtefica Cvek) and "Button, Button Who's Got the Button?"
Translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth, Michael Henry Heim, and Ellen Elias-Bursać
About the Author: Dubravka Ugresic is the author of seven works of fiction, including The Museum of Unconditional Surrender and Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, along with six collections of essays, including Thank You for Not Reading and Karaoke Culture, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. She has won, or been shortlisted for, more than a dozen prizes, including the NIN Award, Austrian State Prize for European Literature, Heinrich Mann Prize, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Man Booker International Prize, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. In 2016, she received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (the “American Nobel”) for her body of work.
About the Translators: Celia Hawkesworth has translated The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic, Omer-Pasha Latas by Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić, and several works by Daša Drndić, including EEG, which won the 2020 Best Translated Book Award.
Michael Henry Heim (1943–2012) was a professor of Slavic languages at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He was an active and prolific translator, and was fluent in Czech, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian, French, Italian, German, and Dutch.
Ellen Elias-Bursać has been translating fiction and nonfiction by Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian writers since the 1980s, including novels and short stories by David Albahari, Dubravka Ugresic, Daša Drndić, and Karim Zaimovič. She is co-author of a textbook for the study of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian with Ronelle Alexander and author of Translating Evidence and Interpreting Testimony at a War Crimes Tribunal: Working in a Tug-of-War, which was awarded the Mary Zirin Prize in 2015.
Praise for Dubravka Ugresic:
"Splendidly ambitious. . . . A brilliant, enthralling spread of storytelling and high-velocity reflections. . . . She is a writer to follow. A writer to be cherished."—Susan Sontag
"A madcap wit and a lively sense of the absurd. . . . Filled with ingenious invention and surreal incident."—Marina Warner
"Ugresic's attachment to absurdity leads her down paths where other writers fear to tread."—The Independent