The Age of Skin
November 17, 2020
essays | pb | 220 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"
Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature
A New York Times Editors' Choice
These essays are written on the skin of the times. 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. The collapse of Yugoslavia, and the author’s subsequent exile from Croatia, leads to reflections on nationalism and the intertwining of crime and politics. Ugresic writes at eye level, from a human perspective, in portraits of people from the former Eastern Bloc, who work as cleaners in the Netherlands or start underground shops with products from their country of origin.
A rare and welcome combination of irony, compassion, and a sharp polemic gaze characterizes these beautiful and highly relevant essays.
Translated from the Croatian by 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 Translator: 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:
“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.”