“Multilayered narratives come together as an exploration of femininity, identity, mortality, and folklore’s wondrous powers.” —Booklist
According to Slavic myth, Baba Yaga is a witch who lives in a house built on chicken legs and kidnaps small children. In Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, internationally acclaimed writer Dubravka Ugresic takes the timeless legend and spins it into a fresh and distinctly modern tale of femininity, aging, identity, and love.
With barbed wisdom and razor-sharp wit, Ugresic weaves together the stories of four women in contemporary Eastern Europe: a writer who grants her dying mother’s final wish by traveling to her hometown in Bulgaria, an elderly woman who wakes up every day hoping to die, a buxom blonde hospital worker who’s given up on love, and a serial widow who harbors a secret talent for writing. Through the women’s fears and desires, and their struggles against invisibility, Ugresic presents a brilliantly postmodern retelling of an ancient myth that is infused with humanity and the joy of storytelling.
“Ugresic’s postmodern take on myth, femininity, and aging provides a beautifully written window into Slavic literature.” —Publishers Weekly
Ugresic's postmodern take on myth, femininity, and aging provides a beautifully written window into Slavic literature, but eventually becomes bogged down in competing narrative threads. The tangentially related sections of the narrative triptych, while uneven as a whole, provide lovely moments in each. In the first, more melancholy section, the narrator recounts her mother's encroaching Alzheimer's while fulfilling her last wishes and remembering the tenets she lived by (old age is a terrible calamity; beans are best in salad). In the second, most humorous, and oblique section, three old friends let their hair down at a high-end resort, replete with a charming, young faux-Turkish masseur; and in the third, a scholar provides background on Baba Yaga myths (Baba Yaga is the witch of Slavic fairy tales). Ugresic's meditations on the attempts of aging women to avoid becoming either short-haired desexualized hags or dotty creatures surrounded by cats are worth the overly esoteric tone that keeps the characters from becoming entirely engrossing.