Well-Known Croatia-Born Writer Dubravka Ugresic Passes

Well-Known Croatia-Born Writer Dubravka Ugresic Passes thumbnail

Anti-war feminist writer Dubravka Ugresic who left Croatia in 1993, and whose writings attracted both praise and controversy, has died in Amsterdam.

Dubravka Ugresic. Photo by David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

The Croatian writer, essayist and translator Dubravka Ugresic died on Friday in Amsterdam, the Zagreb Multimedia Institute announced.

The author of “Stefice Cvek in the Jaws of Life” (1981), “Fording the Steam of Consciousness” (1988) and “Baba Jaga laid an egg” (2008) and others, died aged 73. Her Croatian publisher, Petar Milat, from the Multimedia Institute, says she was surrounded by family and friends.

Ugresic left Croatia in 1993 for political reasons after a scandal caused by the publication of a text, “The Witches of Rio” in the weekly Globus – the “witches” in question being a reference to the her and other feminists denounced in Croatia for their anti-war views. She was strongly anti-nationalist and either identitied as Yugoslav or resisted any label.

Mentioned as a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature she received several prestigious European awards for her essays.

Born in 1949 in Kutina, at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb she studied comparative literature and Russian language, before working at the same faculty for almost 20 years at the Institute for Literary Theory.

In 1984, together with Aleksandar Flaker, she edited the “Glossary of the Russian Avant-Garde” and translated it from Russian, among others. Based on her novel “Stefica Cvek in the Jaws of life“, director Rajko Grlic made a film in 1984 with Vitomir Loncar in the title role.

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After her departure from Croatia, she published several essay titles, including “Museum of Unconditional Surrender” (1999) and “Ministry of Pain” (2004).

“If Yugoslavia hadn’t come apart at the seams, if a mob of brutal thugs, elected by the democratic majority, hadn’t grabbed hold of power, I wouldn’t have ended up in Amsterdam,” she once wrote.

Her last book in Croatian, published in 2021, “A muzzle for witches”, is composed of two parts – the author’s congratulations to her heroine Stefica Cvek on the occasion of her 40th birthday and an interview that Merima Omeragić did with Ugresic.

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