Thank You for Not Reading
April 12, 2022
essays | pb | 220 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"
Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature
Thank You for Not Reading is a biting critique of book publishing: agents, subagents, and scouts, supermarket-like bookstores, Joan Collins, book fairs that have little to do with books, authors promoted because of sex appeal instead of merit, and editors trying to look like writers by having their photograph taken against a background of bookshelves. Nowadays, the best strategy for young authors wanted to publish is to become famous in some other capacity first—as a sports star, an actress, or an Ivana Trump.
One of the most interesting and paradoxical comparisons coming out of Ugresic's dissection of book culture is the similarity between the art of socialist realism (as prescribed by the Soviets) and the nature of the contemporary marketplace to produce and promote art that appeals to everyone. Thanks to cultural forces like listicles and celebrity book clubs, the publishing machine neglects literature in favor of accessible, entertaining books for the masses.
Translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth, with contribution from Damion Searls.
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 is the translator of numerous works of Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian literature, including Dubravka Ugresic’s The Culture of Lies for which she won the Heldt Prize for Translation in 1999.
Damion Searls is a translator from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch and a writer in English. He has translated many classic modern writers, including Proust, Rilke, Nietzsche, Walser, Ingeborg Bachmann, Alfred Döblin, Jon Fosse, and Elfriede Jelinek, among others.
Praise for Dubravka Ugresic:
“It takes a stranger to see how dark this world is: Dubravka Ugresic is that stranger.”
“Like Nabokov, Ugresic affirms our ability to remember as a source for saving our moral and compassionate identity.”
—John Balaban, Washington Post
“Ugresic must be numbered among what Jacques Maritain called the dreamers of the true; she draws us into the dream.”
—New York Times
“A genuinely free-thinker, Ugresic’s attachment to absurdity leads her down paths where other writers fear to tread.”
“As long as some, like Ugresic, who can write well, do, there will be hope for the future.”
“Ugresic’s wit is bound by no preconceived purposes, and once the story takes off, a wild freedom of association and adventurous discernment is set in motion. . . . Ugresic dissects the social world.”
—World Literature Today
“Never has a writer been more aware of how one narrative depends on another.”
“Ugresic is unbeatable at explaining the inexplicable entanglements of Balkan cultural traditions, particularly as they relate to the hellish position of women.”
“Ugresic is also affecting and eloquent, in part because within her quirky, aggressively sweet plot she achieves moments of profundity and evokes the stoicism innate in such moments.”
“Dubravka Ugresic is the philosopher of evil and exile, and the storyteller of many shattered lives.”