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The Museum of Unconditional Surrender

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  445 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The Museum of Unconditional Surrender—by the renowned Yugoslavian writer Dubravka Ugresic—begins in the Berlin Zoo, with the contents of Roland the Walrus's stomach displayed beside his pool (Roland died in August, 1961). These objects—a cigarette lighter, lollipop sticks, a beer-bottle opener, etc.—like the fictional pieces of the novel itself, are seemingly random at fir ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 17th 2002 by New Directions (first published 1997)
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Aug 16, 2007 Annabel rated it it was amazing
This was one of those rare surprises that can happen when you buy a book solely based on the title or the back cover description and hope for the best.

I found it in the English section of a Croatian bookshop, while in search of something by a local writer. It was the first and only book I picked up and ended up being one of my favorite books ever.

It's a beautifully written memoir by a Croatian refugee. Unlike most memoirs, it is not a linear story. Some paragraphs are numbered, as if she is cr
Sep 16, 2014 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-croacia
Dubravka Ugrešić, nasceu na Jugoslávia e aos 45 anos tornou-se uma exilada, por incompatibilidade com o governo criado com a independência da Croácia.

Através de cartas, diários, ensaios e o diabo a sete, a autora conta histórias ou momentos da vida de outros exilados: familiares, amigos e conhecidos da autora, e também de pessoas famosas (Nabokov, Brodsky, e Kabakov). Um corrupio de gente e uma tal salganhada que me esgotou a paciência.

Não falta a crónica de viagens: "Uma noite em Lisboa" - uma
Sep 18, 2015 Donna rated it it was amazing

I just 100% loved this book. I thought I would have so much to say about but I have been busy moving, from a childhood house filled to the brim with 3 generations of peoples' stuff, to an apartment. I have been at it for two years. My sister came up every summer to help me. I learned a lot. The best thing was probably how to drop a box of stuff through an attic trap door so that it lands upright and nothing breaks or flies out. That is m new favourite skill.
Perhaps it was fitting to read this b
Nov 06, 2011 Bridget rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction, thesis
This "novel" is simply stunning. Part memoir, part fiction, part essay collection, what it ultimately seems to be is a photo album in words -- a "collage" -- of life in exile. The book begins with a humorously gruesome catalog of the disparate items that were found in the stomach of a dead walrus at the Berlin Zoo. What follows is a similarly disconnected series of vignettes, journal entries, and biographical sketches of people living in the aftermath of war and exile. But just like the cigarett ...more
Oct 17, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the great novels of the diasporic experience, and of the emotional legacy of Yugoslavia's brutal and bloody ending. One of those BBB (while not exactly "Big" in size, it is "Big" in thematic content) beloved of some of us here, which brings PoMo and, indeed, Mo, techniques to bear on a fragemented, and fragementing, experience.

Excellent article here:
M. Sarki
For the most part an enjoyable read, but nothing meaningful I am impelled to say about it. There was not one sentence I could lift or wanted to quote which tells me the book perhaps was so-so. Or I was not in the right place or time for it.
Aug 06, 2015 Antonia rated it it was amazing
En fantastisk bok. Om hur det är att leva i exil från ett land som inte längre finns - Jugoslavien. Det är förunderligt att läsa en bok om exil och komma hem när man varit borta i två veckor. Att ha ett hem är så fundamentalt. Speciellt när man varit borta och hälsat på släkten i just ett av landen forna Jugoslavien bestod av. Det är svårt att beskriva boken då den är närmast är fragmentarisk på ett drömmande sätt, hopplock av minnen från olika personer och, vad jag tolkar det som, författarens ...more
Feb 10, 2015 Tomislav rated it really liked it
I finished this book quite quickly. Since it is relevant to the book, I should mention that I am a Croatian-American, born in the US, but somewhat familiar with both the Croatian and German languages - and I am the adoptive father of a daughter from Bulgaria since 1993. So I felt quite familiar with the history and the settings and the issues of pan-Slavism vs. nationalism, and they are authentic in this book. It is possible other readers will not recognize that Bubi is a child version of the na ...more
orsodimondo (a zonzo)
Nov 25, 2012 orsodimondo (a zonzo) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: croazia
PER FARE UN ANGELO CI VOGLIONO CINQUE ANNI, per il dolore è abbastanza un minuto
Si parla molto di fotografie in questo libro – si arriva persino a dividere i profughi in due categorie, quelli con le fotografie, e quelli senza.
Io però credo sia un paradosso, credo che le distinzioni tra profughi siano anche altre, o che fra loro non ci siano affatto differenze.

Dubravka Ugrešić non si annovera nel numero dei profughi, ma questo lo dice l’io narrante dopo aver scritto: Chiedersi se questo romanzo
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 Jim Elkins rated it it was ok
Shelves: croatian
I slowed, reading this, and finally stopped. As Susan Sontag says (it's so annoying, really, finding myself so often following in the history of her reading, and agreeing with her judgments), the book has "high-velocity reflections," and "speaks for many people." That's a generous way of pointing to a fault. The individual numbered sections in the book are self-contained stories; they're often brilliant, but they end up giving the impression of an endless ocean of stories -- and that realization ...more
Juliet Wilson
Jun 13, 2009 Juliet Wilson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This is a stunningly beautiful book focusing on the experiences of a group of women from former Yugoslavia as their country falls apart and they become exiles. It's a novel but not a conventional one as it has no actual narrative but is made up of fragments and stories woven together to make a patchwork of feelings and insights on ageing, identity, loneliness, homeland, belonging and loss. Certain images and snippets of stories appear again and again within the pages, making connections between ...more
Dec 08, 2015 verbava rated it liked it
Shelves: balkan, émigré
"музей безумовної капітуляції" – книжка про еміграційний досвід. вона й структурою своєю нагадує валізу (чи, наприклад, музейну експозицію; один із героїв так і каже: "ми всі – експонати"): цілість, поскладана з роз'єднаних фрагментів, з уламків різної цінності, які внаслідок перебування в одному просторі набувають цінності рівної.
враження від тексту в результаті так само фрагментарні й мінливі. у якісь моменти хочеться прогортати найближчі десять сторінок, у якісь здається, що це найкраща книж
vanya klecherova
моята стая е пълна с тишина. като с памук

обожавам дубравка угрешич. стилът й на писане е … бял. като тишината, изпълваща стаята. памучен. (перифразирам думи от текста.) в действителност – дубравка угрешич е царицата на меланхолното, разсъдъчно писане. чела съм въпросната книга преди цял един век. спомням си, че обичах да я чета напосоки. тя позволява това. в определени моменти се държи като дневник, в други е сбор от разкази. истории за хора, места, пречупени през личната история на разказващия.
Jul 12, 2014 Becky rated it liked it
Despite the horrifying title, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender is not as doom laden as it may seem. A series of vignettes about the experience of being an exile, many are simple observations of everyday humanity, with war and refuge as a back up to a more human subplot. Ugrešić was born in the former Yugoslavia, and left the country in 1993 having taken an anti war stance as the country fought for independence. Despite this potential for bitterness, she describes her homeland with a mix of ...more
May 14, 2014 Josipa rated it did not like it
Shelves: fax
Muzej bezuvjetne predaje djelo je hrvatske autorice Dubravke Ugrešić. Prvo izdanje objavljeno je u Amsterdamu 1997. godine pod nazivom Museum van onvoorwaardelijke overgave, dakle na nizozemskom jeziku. "Čini se da bol, kao i psovku, s lakoćom možemo izreći samo na jeziku koji nije naš."
Djelo se sastoji od uvoda i sedam dijelova u kojima autorica iznosi svoja razmišljanja i sjećanja na ljude, mjesta i događaje iz svoga života.
Uvodni dio započinje nabrajanjem raznovrsnih predmeta koji su pronađe
Aug 15, 2015 Anicius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
От къде да започна? - от факта, че веднъж ми бяха дали тази книга и нещата между мене и нея някак не се получиха? Или от името Жела Георгиева, което винаги е гаранция за качествена книга и качествен превод.
Да, първият път, преди около година между мен и "Музеят" не се получи нужната химия. Толкова много мои приятели ми я препоръчваха, говореха за нея, хвалеха я.
От къде да започна... за книги, които много са ми харесали е някак трудно да говоря, да обяснявам, особено първите месеци след прочита
Adam Dalva
Mar 21, 2015 Adam Dalva rated it it was amazing
An immersive experience - a book of exile ABOUT exile, about how life slowly reaccumulates in unexpected combinations when your life is fractured. It is essentially a linked story collection, with some parts stronger than others (I think the sequences in Berlin would be better had I myself lived in Berlin) and the reading slow-going, but as time goes along and you learn the peculiar rhythm of the piece, you can't help but fall in love. Some choice sequences (a virtuosic short-story in Portugal; ...more
Alison Anderson
Mar 08, 2016 Alison Anderson rated it it was amazing
I love this book, I've read it several times and with each reading, like a poem, a symphony, it becomes dearer. But don't expect a conventional novel with a plot; it is closer to poetry, or a fractured memoir. A very special book.
Daniel Simmons
A book about displacement and exile, with a very unconventional narrative style. I didn't love it, nor did I hate it. I valued it mostly for beautiful passages like this one: "In the silence of my room, with the romantic stage set in the windows, I arrange my bits and pieces, some I have brought with me, without really knowing why, some I found here, all random and meaningless. A little feather I picked up while walking in the park gleams in front of me, a sentence I read somewhere rings in my h ...more
Jun 21, 2016 Robert rated it really liked it
A word of warning to you all. This book is frequently in and out of print so you have to be a bit quick when looking for copies. In order to secure a copy from The Book Depository I had to wait a couple of months but trust me, it was worth it.

The Museum of Unconditional Surrender is about how photographs and miscellaneous trinkets can create an autobiography and throughout the book Ugresic does precisely this. It’s also a book about being exiled and it is pictures and small objects which help us
Scott Cox
“In the Berlin zoo, . . .there is an unusual display. In a glass case are all the things found in the stomach of Roland the walrus, who died on 21 August 1961.” Thus begins these loosely connected vignettes regarding life in exile. The author, Dubravka Ugrešic, was born in what used to be Yugoslavia, and subsequently fled from her war-torn Croatian homeland to live abroad. I would assume that many, if not all of these stories are autobiographical in nature. The reader is encouraged to patiently ...more
C.R. Miller
Sep 15, 2012 C.R. Miller rated it really liked it
4 stars

In the beginning of this book, which I was enjoying intensely, I thought I'd figured out what it was about: “Traumas acquired in the formative years are never forgotten,” says my friend V.K. and adds: 'Some people call that nostalgia.' It was this and more: about the pain of the mundane, the way kitschy memorabilia acquires actual weight and meaning over time, due to aging and memory, the way everyday goings-on build simple, apparently bland biographies, and how those become poignant whe
Nevena Kotarac
Nov 16, 2013 Nevena Kotarac rated it it was amazing
,,Muzej bezuvjetne predaje“ predstavlja jedan potresan kolaž, jedno očajničko slaganje odlomaka i sudbina u nešto nalik na objašnjenje i utjehu, tužno mirenje sa svijetom. Porodične fotografije, izvodi iz majčinog dnevnika, autentične anegdote, impresivne i beskrajne umjetničke instalacije, književne metode, anđeli; sve to nalazi svoje mesto u ovom izvanrednom romanu, u ovoj enciklopediji prošlosti i odlazaka. Sto dvadeset pet fragmenata od početka do kraja knjige opisuju svijet emigranata, onih ...more
Michael Vagnetti
The structural premise of this novel is in the "secret and subtle connections" of unrelated objects. Thus chapters are arranged into numbered exhibits, and follow each other in a kind of free chase. Ideas circle back and return, and others are left truncated, or half-closed.

Another premise is how things make memory: photographs, and, by extension, the act of album-keeping. 'There are two categories of refugees: those who have photographs and those who have none' (228)

Like detritus after an explo
How can you not love a book that begins like "The Museum of Unconditional Surrender?" It starts off inventorying the contents of the stomach of a dead Berlin Zoo walrus... a baby's shoe, keys, lollypops sticks, a knife... a list of wholly separate things but linked together by a common thread of being swallowed by the appetite of a zoo animal.

Like the walrus, Dubravka Ugresic's (semi-autobiographical, one supposes) novel brings together a series of nostalgic stories that evoke an exile's wanderi
Oct 23, 2013 Екатерина rated it it was amazing
Дубравка Угрешич е от онези автори, които пишат уж безхитростно, но те хващат за гърлото. Това е някаква магия, някакво човеколюбие или и аз не знам какво, но е разтърсващо. Така беше и с "Американски речник", така е и с тази книга - "Музеят на безусловната капитулация". Това е книга от и за глобалният човек - този, изгубен в глобалното село, където всички са еднакво умни, възпитани, еднакво се ползват от плодовете на цивилизацията и еднакво крехки и безпомощни в някои ситуации. Размисли на чове ...more
May 25, 2014 Moran rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
Trying to be sophisticated and artsy, trying to talk about literature and art, a continuous name-dropping of random Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian names, a collection of stories with very little connection: All that show us a book that tries to be something it is not.
It sounded so good but it was so long and so boring I wanted to quit at least a dozen times, but was hoping for it to get better. It wasn't completely bad. Some parts were good, but it was mostly bad. Really. She said so many things and t
Mar 28, 2010 Asya rated it really liked it
Immigrant nostalgia...the nostalgia of exiles from countries beginning with prefixes such as former and ex-... the nostalgia of those for whom home is a contested place that also contests our identity... Ugresic specializes in this kind of saudade, threaded with irony, the defense system of those who've figured out that humor is the only way to relate to one's homesickness and others' dumb probing of that pain. I read this book some years ago because it was recommended by Svetlana B., my primary ...more
The memoires of the Croatian author about her youth, her mother, her homeland, the Balkan War and her life in exile in Berlin and other places, is told in a variety of essays and short notes.

It's like you if your browsing a photo album reading fragments about the author's life and memories. It's not a complete chronological story, sometimes she tells about her mother - she even quotes what her mother has written in an exercise book -, in a next chapter her thoughts are numbered and refer to her
Very interesting book, that tries to describe a life, lived partly in exile after the war in Yugoslavia, through objects, memories and people, some family, some friends and some strangers met after the author had to leave her country.
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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
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