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The Museum of Unconditional Surrender


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About the Author

Dubravka Ugresic is the author of several works of fiction, including The Museum of Unconditional Surrender and Fording the Stream of Consciousness, and three collections of essays, Have a Nice Day, The Culture of Lies, and most recently Thank You for Not Reading. She has received several international prizes for her writing, including the Swiss Charles Veillon European Essay Prize, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, and most recently the Premio Feronio-Citta di Fiano. Born and raised in the former Yugoslavia, she left her homeland in 1993 for political reasons and currently lives in Amsterdam. Celia Hawkesworth was Senior Lecturer in Serbian and Croatian at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College, London until her retirement. She has published numerous articles and several books on Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian literature, including a study Ivo Andric: Bridge between East and West, and Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia. She has also published numerous translations, including several works by Ivo Andric and Dubravka Ugresic.


This unconventional novel by Croatian writer Ugresic is a collection of fragmentsÄshort essays, journal entries, stories, factual items, descriptions of placeÄthat combine to evoke the distinct "point of pain" experienced by a political exile. The book is divided into seven parts, four taking place in present-day Berlin, the unnamed Yugoslavian narrator's place of "temporary exile." The Berlin pieces consist of numbered sections, some only a few lines or a paragraph, which convey city facts ("Under the grassy surface of the hill pulsate 26 million cubic metres of rubble from the ruins of Berlin, collected and dragged here after the Second World War"); thoughts about exile; quotations about Berlin, exile and art; and descriptions of friends, many of whom are themselves artists whose works reflect themes of fragmentation and attempts to reclaim lost or scattered memories. Another series of fragments consists of six stories, some set in America, loosely connected by themes of rootlessness, memory, disorientation. "Part Six" of the novel is a tale about seven women friends in Zagreb who encounter a prophetic angel shortly before "the local apocalypse"; the angel allows only the narrator to remember the occasion and give testimony. Recurring images and themesÄthe photo album or the museum, for instanceÄdraw together the "bits and pieces," while the domestic detailsÄmeals, meetings, shopping expeditionsÄkeep the work anchored firmly in the realm of day-to-day existence. Complex, intelligent and challenging, this unusual novel is rendered impressively accessible by Ugresic's human, vulnerable voice. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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