Tanja Lucic arrives in Amsterdam from Zagreb armed with flimsy prospects.
The young intellectual's flight to the Netherlands from the ruins of Yugoslavia yields striking vignettes of emotional shellshock, linguistic displacement and limbo-like stasis.
The Ministry of Pain is a brave, accomplished, cultured novel. Despite the breadth and depth of its political and literary ambitions, the novel is possessed of a wonderful, clear simplicity. There are very pure pleasures in Ugresic's honesty, her lightsome, moving prose, her ability to dance in a flash from outrage to satire to a heartfelt exposition of beauty.
An acclaimed novelist and essayist, Dubravka Ugresic is a native of the former Yugoslavia who left her homeland in 1993 for political reasons. She now lives in Amsterdam.