Women in Translation Month [Throwback No.1]

As many of you may have noticed already, August is widely considered Women in Translation Month (look for the #WITMonth hashtag basically anywhere). Since Open Letter has published its fair share of baller women authors over the past ten years, we thought we’d take a few posts to highlight a handful of our all-time favorite representatives, including Marguerite Duras, Mercè Rodoreda, and Dubravka Ugresic, among others.

As many of you also may know, Open Letter is gearing up to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year (WHOO! OPEN LETTER FOREVER! FOREVER AND EVER! OPEN LETTER DOT COM!)—and to mark our tenth anniversary we’ll be publishing not one, but TWO new titles in 2018 by Dubravka Ugresic—the first author Open Letter ever published. Dubravka is one of the greatest of the greats (most recently she’s the 2016 recipient of the Neustadt Prize), and we’re beyond thrilled to continue publishing and working with her. If you’ve read any of her books, you know why we love her and her work so much; if you’re a Ugresic virgin, now is as good a time as any to get started on her oeuvre.

For our throwbacks, we’ve decided to do is fish through our archives and bring back some author-related interviews, reviews, and general crush-posts. Even though this is just skimming off one layer of our Ugresic archives, this was no clean and simple feat, as there was a lot of reformatting and unglitching to do with older posts since the server “update” a year or so ago, but what better time to spring clean than, well, summer?

Since we’ve published a total of three of Dubravka’s books, our throwback arsenal for her is pretty damn extensive. We hope you enjoy browsing our history as much as we enjoyed dusting it off!

Book One: Nobody’s Home

Dubravka in The Telegraph. Wherein we kick off our Dubravkafest almost 10 years ago with a Telegraph sneak peek of one of the pieces in Nobody’s Home.

The Guardian runs a profile on Dubravka and her work.

Bookforum reviews Nobody’s Home and gets what Ugresic is about. “The notion that a literary text must bear the burden of identification tags is, for Ugresic, an affront; it entails tacit approval of the idea that “the field of literature is nothing more than a realm of geopolitics.”

Dubravka goes on the Leonard Lopate show with Breyten Breytenbach.

Dubravka’s Nobody’s Home keeps smashing with reviews, including at Literary License and BoingBoing: “. . . this collection of essays puts her on par with Zizek or Baudrillard for observation and critique – and maybe a cut above for courage to speak the truth. There’s something decidedly female about this writing as well, which exposes a bit of the bias of the rest of post-modernism.”

One of Dubravka’s marvelous translators, Ellen Elias-Bursac, shares her thoughts on Nobody’s Home.

More reviews for Nobody’s Home in Booklit and Front Table “She is a world traveler, an exile of her homeland, but no matter what has changed politically and culturally, there is always that longing of émigrés for the familiarity of the native.”

Book Two: Karaoke Culture

That time we got excited about our second Ugresic book, Karaoke Culture.

The Paris Review posts an excerpt from _Karaoke_—the memorable showdown with the hotel minibar. (Which The Millions liked so much they posted about and linked to it!)

In one Three Percent review, a student intern calls Karaoke Culture a book “well in control of itself and in control of its reader, utterly convincing and entertaining.”

Kirkus Reviews posts an interview by Jessa Crispin of Bookslut with Dubravka.

The New Republic runs an article in which Ruth Franklin” refers to Karaoke as one of the five books she wished she’d reviewed.

A review from By the Firelight aptly analyzes Karaoke Culture by beginning: “To even write this review is to participate in the Karaoke Culture the Dubravka Ugresic criticizes.”

Carolyn Kellogg of the L.A. Times gives a great review of Karaoke Culture, stating “Karaoke Culture is an essential investigation of our times.”

That time Karaoke Culture was a finalist for the NBCC Award for Criticism!.

Book Three: Europe in Sepia

Our third Ugresic book, Europe in Sepia, hits the ground running”. World Literature Today says of the collection: “. . . these acerbic, angry essays lay bare what shapes our world and ourselves: envy, greed, and the forces they unleash—anarchy and revolution.”

Full Stop posts a hugely insightful review of Europe in Sepia, stating. “[Ugresic’s] interested, rather, in talking about the particularity of now as it scrambles out of the past and lurches towards the future—unpredictable, nonlinear, but worth observing with whatever amount of critical distance an author can access. Ugresic is interested in the committed losers, whose narratives might take on unfamiliar shapes, without so many peaks and valleys. She is invested in traveling the winding, bumpy back roads of the excluded.”

The Millions reviews Europe and gives a shout-out to all the fellow losers. “Ugrešić’s writing is unified by her sharp wit, cunning mind, absurdist sensibility, and its fragmentation. Her “patchwork” fiction is littered with references to Kafka and Isaac Babel and interspersed with patterns and recipes and articles from women’s magazines. Ugrešić’s essays are just as fragmented, with her mind racing the hyperkinectic speed of her travels, it seems.”

Music & Literature joins in on the Europe fun with its review. which recognizes in her a dark humor but straight-shooting realism that’s hard to not admire: “Ugrešić is always the first to subvert her own glamour. Indeed, she has distinguished herself throughout her thirty-year career by refusing to accept the romance, by staring down nostalgia until it splinters apart like her former homeland.”

The Complete Review says of Ugresic’s Europe “She captures modern rootlessness particularly well—a rootlessness that extends beyond the mere geographic and linguistic, to other aspects of identity. . .”

The Mookse and the Gripes says of Europe “. . . an excellent collection in which Ugresic finds herself, by virtue of living long enough, in the “brighter future.”

Stay tuned for more of our Open Letter #WITMonth throwbacks!

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