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Finalist for the NBCC award for Criticism.
"Ugresic is sharp, funny and unafraid. . . . Orwell would approve."—Times Literary Supplement
Over the past three decades, Dubravka Ugresic has established herself as one of Europe"s greatest—and most entertaining—thinkers and creators, and it's in her essays that Ugresic is at her sharpest. With laser focus, she pierces our pop culture, dissecting the absurdity of daily life with a wit and style that's all her own.
Whether it's commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache. Karaoke Culture is full of candid, personal, and opinionated accounts of topics ranging from the baffling worldwide-pop-culture phenomena to the detriments of conformist nationalism. Sarcastic, biting, and, at times, even heartbreaking, this new collection of essays fully captures the outspoken brilliance of Ugresic's insights into our modern world's culture and conformism, the many ways in which it is ridiculous, and how (deep, deep down) we are all true suckers for it.
Dubravka Ugresic is the author of several works of fiction and several essay collections, including the NBCC award finalist, Karaoke Culture. She went into exile from Croatia after being label a "witch" for her anti-nationalistic stance during the Yugoslav war. She now resides in the Netherlands.
David Williams did his doctoral research on the post-Yugoslav writings of Dubravka Ugresic and the idea of a "literature of the Eastern European ruins." He is the author of Writing Postcommunism.
After her novel Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, Ugresic returns with a brilliant collection of timely essays. In the titular piece, she uses karaoke as a metaphor for a variety of modern phenomena in which every amateur gets his or her fifteen minutes of being (or imitating) a master. She posits the Internet as a form of mega-karaoke, in which fans can rewrite their favorite stories, a Bulgarian singer covering a Mariah Carey song can become an international YouTube sensation, and gamers prefer virtual realities to their actual lives. The essays in the second chapter ( Buy the Jellyfish that Stung You ) continue Ugresic's examination of the post-postmodern world, particularly the consequences of the current global recession. In chapter three, Ugresic recalls being ostracized by the media for her anti-war stance in Croatia in the early 1990s, when she and four other female writers were declared the five Croatian witches, and she was blacklisted by her colleagues at the Institute for Literary Theory. The final chapter is devoted to literary analysis, including an enlightening essay examining a century of the Austro-Hungarian novel and its major themes. Ugresic moves nimbly from karaoke to Communism, from IKEA to the symbolism of insects in literature, providing smart and witty cultural insight alongside Eastern European history.