Croatian writer Dubravka Ugrešić is dead. According to Croatian media, she died in Amsterdam on Friday after a short, serious illness. The Dutch city had long been the adopted home of Ugrešić, who left Croatia in 1993 after a media smear campaign against her and four other authors and also lived in Germany for a time.
Born in Kutina in 1949, she studied Comparative Literature and Russian at the University of Zagreb and worked at the Institute for Literary Theory there for over twenty years. She translated works by Daniil Charms and Boris Pilnjak into Croatian and took a stand against nationalism, hatred and war in the 1990s.
Her exile experience is reflected in her essays as well as in her novels. She was internationally successful with “The Museum of Unconditional Surrender” (1998), and “The Museum of Pain” was a worthy successor five years later. In it, a Croatian literary scholar, who left Zagreb because of the war, and her students, who also come from the collapsed Yugoslavia, start a project to catalog their memories of everyday life in Yugoslavia – a highly emotional process, described in a captivating way.
Dubravka Ugrešić, about whom Susan Sontag once said she was “an author you simply have to admire”, was repeatedly discussed for the Nobel Prize. Although it was never awarded to her, she has received many awards, such as the Austrian State Prize for European Literature and the Heinrich Mann Prize of the Academy of Arts, Berlin. Her most recent publications in German are the novel “Baba Jaga places an egg” (2008) and the volume of essays “Karaokekultur”, in which she dissects phenomena of the digital age. Now Dubravka Ugrešić has died at the age of 73. (nal)
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