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The Ministry of Pain

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  574 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Having fled the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, Tanja Lucic is now a professor of literature at the University of Amsterdam, where she teaches a class filled with other young Yugoslav exiles, most of whom earn meager wages assembling leather and rubber S&M clothing at a sweatshop they call the "Ministry." Abandoning literature, Tanja encourages her students to indulge t ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,411)
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Greg
Memory and what might be better forgotten.

So, today, 7/11/2010, I unintentionally wound up walking past the tourist trap known as the World Trade Center site, aka Ground Zero, aka whatever it is called. Roughly it had been 8 years, 10 months and five and a half hours, give or take some minutes since I last happened to be in the neighborhood. My first response to realizing we (that would be Karen and I) would be getting to see that spot was annoyance. As in, what the fuck, I wasn't expecting thi
...more
Aubrey
I have never been in danger of losing my heritage. The US existed long before I was born, and will in all likelihood still be standing long after I'm gone. English is not going to split itself up into a hydra construction anytime soon, barring a disturbance of apocalyptic magnitude. And even if this language chimera did phase into being, there's little chance of the different strains hating each other to the point of genocide. I take this intrinsic stability for granted. You'd be hard pressed to ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Jul 19, 2014 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis added it
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Aubrey
Shelves: 2014-gelesen
This Review must be prefaced with an apology. Perhaps a warning for uncharacteristic negativity. Please, excuse this.

The Ministry of Pain is one of the worst books I’ve read since joining goodreads. What makes this situation especially difficult/painful/unfortunate is that it came with a very sturdy recommendation from the tripod of MJ-Jonathan-Aubrey. Please don’t cease the recommendations on account of this Review.

In short, I found myself constantly groaning and sighing ; lucky that there were
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I reread this because I was incredulous about my negative response to it. I've had middling responses to a few books otherwise highly regarded by my fellow readers so I know what that's like ; but I've never found a book so simply bad which others regard at least as competent. But, no, now I'm just incredulous about how bad this book is. Again I started groaning as soon as the cliched simile=dropping started in. But I take little pleasure in ripping a book yet another one. So I'll head off my in ...more
MJ Nicholls
A profoundly intelligent take on Serb/Croatian emigré life following the death of Yugoslav Prime Minister Josip Toto. Tanja is a teacher living in Amsterdam responsible for a Croatian literature programme, who realises her students are much more interesting than her topic.

Very fresh, witty and moving.
Galina
Проблемът с напускането на родното място е сякаш изначален. Разглеждан е и описван от всевъзможни ъгли, но един от онези, най-ярко врязали се в съзнанието ми, е безкрайно интересната теория на Проп за морфологията на вълшебните приказки. Каква връзка има изследването на руския фолклорист от далечната 1928 година с романа на Дубравка Угрешич, който напомня за една толкова съвременна и близка, в чисто географски аспект, история? На пръв поглед общо няма. От друга страна обаче, традиционно ни учат ...more
John David
From Mishima’s “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea” to Kafka to “Winesburg, Ohio,” the themes of alienation and exile have pervaded world literature in the twentieth century so much as to almost become a cliché. The various political disintegrations in Europe of the 1980s and 1990s gave need to another wave of this type of literature, and is whence Dubravka Ugresic’s wonderful novel “The Ministry of Pain” comes. Reading it, I was reminded a lot of Kundera’s novels from the same time per ...more
Anaszaidan
موطن الألم رواية للكاتبة الكرواتية (دوبرافكا اوجاريسك)التى تعيش فى هولندا كلاجئة بعد رفضها استقلال كرواتيا عن يوغسلافيا السابقة وبعد اندلاع الحرب عام 1991 اتخذت موقفا صلبا ضد الحرب والنزعة القومية واضطرت للهجرة وهى حاصلة على العديد من الجوائز أشهرها جائزة الدولة النمساوية فى الأدب الأوربى عام 1999 .

والرواية صدرت فى سلسلة إبداعات عالمية من ترجمة وتقديم الأستاذ الدكتور محمد فرغل .وتدور حول النزوح الكبير من يوغسلافيا السابقة إلى الخارج بعد اندلاع الحروب العرقية بين مختلف مكونات الوطن من صرب وكروات
...more
Ghanem Abdullah
موطن الألم.
رواية دوبرافكا أوجاريسك.
ترجمة: د/محمد فرغل
مراجعة: د/ سامية دياب
اصدار المجلس الوطني للثقافة والفنون والآداب-الكويت ضمن سلسلة ابداعات عالمية- أكتوبر ٢٠١١م.

تنتمي هذه الرواية لأدب المنفى، تتناول فيه الأديبة الكرواتية "دوبرافكا" قصة مقتبسة من أحداثٍ تاريخية عاصرتها وعايشتها، امتلأت بالألم والدم.
تدور الرواية حول بعض اللاجئين الذين قدموا لهولندا بعد تفكك يوغسلافيا السابقة لعدة دول، كان اللاجئون قادمين من كرواتيا وصربيا والبوسنة وألبانيا وغيرها، وكانت تجمع بعضًا منهم إحدى الكليات التي تعني با
...more
Marc Nash
A book about exile and trying to establish your identity in a foreign land living among your own expats whose rivalries and grudges are the reason for the narrator fleeing her war-torn country in the first place. The country is Yugoslavia as it breaks up into 6 different states and these exiles find sanctuary but no peace in Holland. The book is a stunning piece of literary writing. It portrays the human soul, with crystal precision. What it means to be in pain. To be displaced. To be fragmented ...more
Ron
In a world rapidly filling with those taking refuge from political turmoil, there is a growing literature of the refugee experience. This novel (which seems more like a memoir it is so detailed in the specifics of finding asylum in another country) covers a year in the life of a young woman from Zagreb in Croatia, who has fetched up in Holland, with a university teaching job in the Slavic Languages department. Here she teaches mostly fellow emigres, from the former Yugoslavia.

The narrative devic
...more
Kaloyana
Прочетох книгата за един ден. Надмина всичките ми очаквания, които всъщност нямах в големи количества, предвид темата. А именно - последиците в живота на обикновените хора, след войната в Югославия. Стилът и изказът на автора са на високо ниво. Угрешич пише доста чувствено, честно и открито. Умело ползва думите и ги мята като ножове насреща ни. Не може да си роден на Балканите и да не ти подейства всичко, което описва. Хареса ми това, че няма мрънкане и оплакване, няма оценка, нито политика. Има ...more
محمـد بــدر

" حين تكون محاصرا بين خيارين .. العودة الى هناك وتكون ميتا
, أو البقاء هنا وتكون مهزوما ! "


هذه هي اختصار حياة اللاجيء الذي ترك وطنه الذي تضربه الحروب
والفتن والصراعات ورحل الى اللامكان حيث ينتقل من مكان
لآخر باحثا عن البقاء على أمل العودة ولكن تطول الغربة وتمر
الأيام فيفضل أن ينسى.. هو الغير منتمي الى هنا أو هناك.

غربة الأصدقاء , وغربة الأهل وتفرقهم في المهجر , غربة اللغة ,
غربة النفس.. مشاعر كثيرة ومواقف لأول مرة اتعرف عليها بهذا
التدفق الشعوري عن حياة اللاجئين. حياتهم صعبة وقاسية جدا
نفسيا ق
...more
Tze-Wen
What is like to live with Yugo-nostalgia? To be drawn to others of "your own", fellow diaspora of former Yugoslavia? To never be at peace, feel at home, be completely yourself or fully recover from having your country torn from you, your memories replaced with new ones and the suffocating guilt of having gotten away?
Despite my efforts to really try and like this book, my feelings remained an unwavering lukewarm at the most. The author penned a beautiful, sad, harsh, unforgiving and above all, tr
...more
verbava
шкода, що так мало перекладів з неї можна знайти, – дубравка угрешич мені подобається в усіх своїх іпостасях: іронічній, інсайдерсько-літературній, публіцистичній, феміністичній, міфотворчій (чи то пак міфоперетворювальній) – і в цій новій, трохи сумній і трохи жорстокій, присутній у "міністерстві болю".
емігрантський досвід із війною за плечима (здається, ex-yu – це моя нова канада) – саме по собі діткливе, але вона розмотує цю тему в зовсім проникливий бік, коли "не знаходити собі місця" стає
...more
Ghaida Alkhateeb
An amazing touching novel. I can say it is one of the stories that I did not want to end. Moving between the details, the characters, or the feelings gave me a sense of excitement. The way the writer linked the ideas was incredibly good. I love it as it really embodied my life, I spent away from my family and started to believe,regardless of some frustrations,that being far away form your hometown can be painful and even more damaging than an infectious disease. It goes in the veins and arteries ...more
Tejas Janet
Croatian author and émigré Dubravka Ugrešić's novel of exile and dislocation in the aftermath of Yugoslavia's disintegration is insightful and well-written (English translation by Michael Henry Heim). Not easy to read because of the painful topography traversed, but a journey worth making for the complexity and nuance of understanding communicated in its pages. Left me reeling from the feeling of socio-cultural vertigo experienced by the émigré exiles in this genre-crossing tale. Pretty amazing ...more
Jim
Tanja Lucić is not the best of teachers. She’s from “the former Yugoslavia”, a Serb, now living in Holland, and her job is teaching a subject that no longer officially exists:
What we called jugoslavistika at the university—that is, Slovene, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Macedonian literature—had disappeared as a discipline together with its country of origin.
Since she holds a degree in Slavic languages and literatures she’s been offered a two-semester appointment as lecturer in se
...more
Jakey Gee
A highly insightful reflection on post-Yugoslav ‘exile’ and – for my money – the best fictional take on the path that lives took (and internal battles fought) in the early few years following the war(s). I lost count of how many times I thought ‘Yup, seen that’, at moments where she would describe, say, the hot-cold relationship with ‘home’, the changes observed in her parents, the sickly-sweet pull of nostalgia and the sheer (in)difference of the locals.

Structurally it’s very interesting. We ge
...more
Sydney Goggins
(This is somewhat of a plot synopsis)
The main character and narrator, Tanija, fled from Croatia to the Netherlands and is teaching a university course on Serbo-Croatian literature. Instead of teaching a conventional course, however, she turns the class into a forum for her students- who are also from the former Yugoslavia- to share their memories of the state that has now collapsed. The idea is that focusing on the memories they have in common would make it easier to cope with the war.
Graduall
...more
Irena
Tkogod je pao na opis na poleđini knjige, popušio je, da se fino izrazim.

Ok, ima malo tog kontenta. Možda kad se sve sklopi - svega dvije stranice. Sve ostalo je in your head! Tako im i treba ako su uzeli čitat' knjigu radi malo sado-mazo, seksi-šop kontenta (imate fifti šejds of spank za otog' je l')

Nakon ove knjige završila sam sa ratnom temom, temama, posljeratnim traumama, blejmom i takto.

Nemam daljih komentara, knjiga je odlična.
oguz kaan
Kimlik bunalımı üzerine yazılmış güzel bir kitaptı. Kitabın konusunu burada yazmak veya karakterleri anlatmak gereksiz çünkü özeti okuyunca zaten anlarsınız. O yüzden ben biraz daha "Ben ne anladım." tarzı bir anlatım izleyeceğim.

Yazar, birbirinden değişik dinlerin, dillerin, kültürlerin vs. bir araya toplandığı bir ülke olan Yugoslavya'nın dağılmasından sonra o ülkenin kimliğini taşıyan Yugoslavların (O ülkede yaşamış Hırvatlar, Sırplar, Boşnaklar vs.) ülkelerini kaybettikten sonra başına nele
...more
Jana
Ugrešić hits my buttons. But this was one of the most emotionally heaviest books I've ever read. Even the title sounds fearsome. And it is, in a social way, but the only reason why I feel this, is because I can completely relate with this book. Not with her situation specifically, but with the exile mentality of the people from the ex Yugoslavia.
Alen
Dubravka Ugresic is a very skilled writer caught in the 'revolutionary' times and, as it quite often happens with creatives, on the wrong side of those who can make your life very hard. Immediately after political changes resulting in radical political changes in Croatia she ended up in exile. It's easy to call her exile self-imposed, but such decisions are result of a deep soul searching and personal perturbations, and no doubt taxing on a person.

I read a long time ago her novel turned into a m
...more
Lyndon
Ugrešić has a way of telling a story that leaves the reader a little scarred (per her protagonist) but a little wiser to the depths an ex-pat existence. As with her essays, this novel resonates with a mature wit that avoids cliche and invites patient attention.
VeeBat
I was interested in reading a story about another culture and world view that was so outside my own. In the long run though I felt like the story didn't really go anywhere. The disclaimer at the beginning, stating that everything was made up, even the depiction of Amsterdam wasn't to be believed, made it difficult for me to actually become invested in the story. It was a story about reality but I was cautioned not to put too much stock into it. Overall I felt like the author was embellishing a t ...more
Salem Bn
موطن الألم / Ministry of pain ! من أروع ما قرأت ...
Katie
Oh man, I was really excited for this book and it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. The summary sounded so exciting and compelling. When I reread it now, I guess it delivered on its promise. Sort of. I mean, I understand where the events in the summary are in the book.

The narrative is disjointed in a way that doesn't work for me. I understand and acknowledge that this is likely intentional. So much of the book has to do with involuntary expatriation (the summary calls them "exiles" and I'm
...more
Frances
Die Hauptfigur, eine Lektorin aus Ex-Jugoslawien an einem slawistischen Institut in Amsterdam, berichtet über ihren Unterricht mit serbischen, bosnischen und kroatischen Studenten, die ebenso wie sie nach Holland ausgewandert sind, und scheitert an ihrem Experiment, aufgrund der Erinnerungen der einzelnen Studenten an ihre Heimat für alle eine gemeinsame Basis zu schaffen, auf die sie ihren Unterricht aufbauen könnte. Selbst schwer traumatisiert, gelingt es ihr nicht, die Position einer Lehrende ...more
Danielle
This novel is narrated by a Yugoslavian woman named Tanja who experiences isolation and disillusionment after her country dissolves during the Balkan War. A Serb-Croatian literature professor living in Amsterdam, she finds herself in the position of teaching content that no longer holds current context - a national art without a nation - to similarly disenfranchised people.

I will admit that my knowledge of the Balkan Wars is very limited, and my understanding of that region even more so. I chose
...more
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500 Great Books B...: The Ministry of Pain - Dubravka Ugrešić - Aubrey 3 11 Nov 20, 2014 12:13PM  
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  • The Sleepwalker
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  • Imagining the Balkans
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Dubravka Ugrešić earned her degrees in Comparative Literature, Russian Language and Literature at the University of Zagreb, and worked for twenty years at the Institute for Theory of Literature at Zagreb University, successfully pursuing parallel careers as a writer and a literary scholar.

She started writing professionally with screenplays for children’s television programs, as an undergraduate. I
...more
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