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Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (Canongate Myths #11)

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3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  588 ratings  ·  94 reviews

"Baba Yaga is an old hag who lives in a house built on chicken legs and kidnaps small children. She is one of the most pervasive and powerful creatures in all mythology." "But what does she have to do with a writer's journey to Bulgaria in 2007 on behalf of her mother?" "Or with a trio of women who decide in their old age to spend a week together at a hotel spa?" By the en

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Hardcover, 327 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Canongate Books (first published January 1st 1983)
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The Penelopiad by Margaret AtwoodThe Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip PullmanBaba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka UgrešićWeight by Jeanette WintersonRagnarök by A.S. Byatt
Canongate Myths Series
3rd out of 18 books — 33 voters
The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo AndrićDeath and the Dervish by Meša SelimovićProkleta avlija by Ivo AndrićThe Fortress by Meša SelimovićA Tomb for Boris Davidovich by Danilo Kiš
Best South Slavic Literature
60th out of 202 books — 139 voters


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Community Reviews

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Jonfaith


Baba Yaga is a witch of Slavic legend. I've always thought it sounded cool as hell. Baba Roga is the Serbian equivalent, though that is disputed.

Ugresic's novel is a meditation on women and ageing, and moreso the parenthetical threat in such. The feminism within appears honest. (as if i could judge, as if i were willing) The narrative concerns a series of situations. The "author" is concerned about her elderly mother living in Zagreb (Croatia). The mother is suffer aphasia and possibly dementia.
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Aubrey
4.5/5
...they would finally stop bowing down to men with bloodshot eyes, men who are guilty of killing millions of people, and who still have not had enough. For they are the ones who leave a trail of human skulls behind them, yet people's torpid imaginations stick those skulls on the fence of a solitary old woman who lives on the edge of the forest.
This book is the same breed as Mr. Fox, metafiction put through its paces for a far more exacting goal than that of navel gazing and the like. Here
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MJ Nicholls
A curious, playful triptych centred around the Baba Yaga myth. The first part concerns a writer (based on Dubravka Ugrešić) taking care of her embittered mother while a fawning admirer chases her around Slovenia. The second (and longest) is set among a group of bubbly octogenarians at a spa resort, mingling with odious males with permanent erections. The last part is a lengthy dissertation on Slavic folklore, presented by the fawning admirer, with little meta-comments on the previous two section ...more
Sofia Samatar
If there was something I could not abide, it was folklore and the people who studied folklore.

So declares the narrator of the first section of Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, Dubravka Ugresic's tough and witty novel on the theme of the famous witch. This narrator has traveled from Zagreb to Varna, her ageing mother's home town, and is supposed to bring home pictures. She's depressed by the city, which she knew as a teenager before the war but can no longer recognize, and by an annoying friend of her moth
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Larissa
Dec 04, 2013 Larissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Once you notice them, old women are everywhere...

And so too are the starlings to my mothers great dismay. The noise is bad enough, but the mess they make would drive my mother crazy. She could not stand anything unclean or untidy in her home. But cleanliness was not her only battle, she was losing her words and becoming mixed up from Alzheimer's.

At the Grand Hotel three old women are checking in, how long they stay is up to fate. The oldest is confined to a wheelchair, wearing a single large boo
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Elaine
So close to a five. Maybe it was. The first section, on the aging mother, the daughter, the trips "home" was achingly perfect. I saw my grandmother, my mother, and me, all layered in her bittersweet unadorned heart-piercing prose. The second section -- the fairy tale of aging, mothering and loss -- was also nearly perfect, a comic romp with again, those touches of clarity and realism that grab you and don't let go. And then...part 3, and the deadening catologue of myths about old women and the i ...more
Krystelle
So, in the interest of full disclosure, the company I work for publishes this book. That being said, Ugresic's writing is just completely seamless and wry and gut-felt and the translation is beautiful. She uses the Slavic Baba Yaga myth to write about old women, which is not the most glamorous subject ever but somehow she really does conjure up magic around vericose veins and wobbling thighs and the immense amount of personal baggage that old ladies tote around with them. It's really just damn f ...more
El
Baba Yaga has been an interest of mine for a long time, since my first experience of her was in a video game I played the hell out of in my younger years:

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I didn't even know at the time that Baba Yaga was a real component from mythology. I just thought the game was cool. But then her story kept popping up over the years, most recently in my boyfriend's interest which has encouraged him to put her in some of his art eventually. We talk an awful lot about Baba Yaga. It's sort of strang
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Fionnuala
For wonderful descriptions of what it is like to be old but still young, creaking in every limb but still with the usual appetites and desires. All the stuff we usually ignore about the old is explored here through the myth of Baba Yaga.
Galina
Цяла година чакам да се появи в живота ми онова заглавие, което ще ми върне желанието да напиша дълго, подробно ревю. Да седна и хем разсъждавайки, хем емоционално, да събера емоциите и впечатленията, които остава в мен даден текст.

И когато тази книга е открита и прочетена, за нея може да се каже и напише ужасно малко.
Че честно и дори нахално развява истината за старостта в един свят, който има нужда от бляскави коси, гладка кожа и изправена походка, за да признае на жената правото да бъде и да
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Dunja
Isprva su nevidljive. A onda ih najednom počnete zamjećivati. Vuku se po svijetu kao vojske ostarjelih anđela. Jedna se unosi u vaše lice. Promatra vas širom raširenih očiju, izblijedela plava pogleda i izgovara svoju molbu s gordim i istodobno snishodljivim tonom. Traži vašu pomoć, treba prijeći ulicu, a sama ne može, ili ući u tramvaj, a koljena su popustila, treba naći ulicu i broj, a zaboravila je naočale... Osjećate naglu sućut prema ostarjelom stvorenju, ganuti izvršavate dobro djelo, prep ...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
Ugresic crafts three modern variations on the Baba Yaga legend, the witch-like character found in Slavic folklore.

In the first tale, a Croatian writer makes a pilgrimage to Varna behalf of her elderly mother, hoping to act as a surrogate to renew her mother’s declining memory. The outcome, however, does not provide the emotional relief that she or her mother expected.

In the second version, three elderly women visit a Czech Republic resort turned wellness center. Kukla and Beba often look after
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Temz
След тези около 270 страници в съзнанието се е загнездила пълната убеденост, че това е най-оригиналният прочит на познатата вещица, с чиято сянка са покрити детските ми страхове.
Романът е разделен на три части. Първата Иди там – не знам къде,донеси онова – не знам какво представлява разказ за едно пътуване до Варна. Автобиографичните нотки са неизбежни, тъй като майката на писателката е родом от морската ни столица. Външното влияние върху миркокосмоса майка-дъщеря се оказва наша сънародничка – А
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Monica
Muitos problemas com a tradução e com a incorrecção da escrita quase ferem o livro de morte. Foi por pouco que não desisti dele a pouco mais de 60 páginas.
O enredo, no entanto, prendeu-me ao livro, com a curiosidade de saber em que ponto as diferentes histórias se iriam cruzar entre si e com a história mitológica da Baba Yaga.
Essa revelação é guardada para o fim, com uma narração exaustiva de todos os seres mitológicos que, sendo provenientes de várias culturas, se relacionam entre si e fazem a
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Clio
I don't know... I think that this book, a triptychs on Baba Yaga was hard work. The first story about an author and her ageing mother was interesting, but I felt slightly disconnected from them and their experiences. This is perhaps due to my age, the translation or cultural barriers. This disconnection was exacerbated in the second story, about three women who are at a spa/hotel together. I did not really understand much of what was happening, much as I tried. The author weaves Baba Yaga mythol ...more
Cristina
Libro davvero molto bello, anche se la parte che mi è davvero piaciuta è la terza, che analizza la figura di Baba Yaga nella tradizione popolare.

Il libro si compone di tre parti: due racconti, la terza penso si possa definire un saggio. Secondo me comunque il libro sfugge in qualche modo alle varie definizioni di genere e ogni lettore può trovargli una collocazione diversa, se ne sente la necessità.

Tratto comune delle tre parti del libro è la vecchiaia.

Nel primo racconto sono protagoniste una ma
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Victor
Li 2/3 do livro, chegou a um ponto em que perdi todo o interesse. Não penso acabar ou reler nos tempos próximos.

Sinopse : A Baba Yaga é uma velha bruxa que vive numa casa construída sobre patas de galinha e rapta criancinhas. É uma das criaturas mais universais e poderosas de toda a mitologia.
Mas o que tem ela a ver com a viagem duma escritora à Bulgária, em 2007, em vez da sua mãe?
Ou com um trio de mulheres que resolvem, na sua velhice, passar uma semana juntas nas termas dum hotel?
No fim do
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Mommalibrarian
non-fiction shelf because one third is a n onslaught of information about Eastern European (and other parts of the world) folklore. Russian because that is one of the countries whose folklore is included. Women's Issues because the non-fiction part of the book makes a big deal about the main characters being old women and expounds on the way old woment are treated in folklore. Fantasy because the non-fiction part of the book explains the fiction part as deeply symbolic; just an allusion to the f ...more
Kirsten
A postmodernist take on Baba Yaga, the Slavic witch figure who appears in a zillion fairytales and sometimes works for good, sometimes for evil. This is a triptych: the first two sections are tales whose female characters are all versions of Baba Yaga, and the last section is a guide, "Baba Yaga for Beginners," written by a fictional folklorist who has been asked to interpret the first two tales.

Baba Yaga's a colorful crone who lives in a hut atop chicken legs and flies through the sky in a mort
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Laura
Hmm. This is a tricky one to review, as I have hugely mixed feelings about it.

The first section, the story of an author, her mother, and their relationship with another woman, was interesting. The second, of three elderly ladies who go to a spa together, was just incredible, beautiful, will not forget it. The third section, a critical review and summary of the fairy tales used in parts one and two, just felt overlong, although it was interesting once more.

Without giving away any actual plot poin
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Ms. S...........
...my favorite combination - a story and also something to learn. The story part hit a little too close to home, as I am at the beginning of aging and my mother is towards the end of it. But, the last chapter is a treasure-trove of international information on the many incarnations of Baba Yaga provided for the reader to pursue further. The author commented that, in her current form, Baba Yaga is a caricature of herself, used by contemporary Eastern bloc authors/creators in a violent and pornogr ...more
Kristina
This is the second time I have read this book from front to back. I read it for the first time when I was 11. At the time I recognised the Slavic motifs present, but did not understand the actual story...but it has continued to haunt me, so I decided to read it again. I found the story to be relatable in many ways. However, it did not really appeal to me. It seemed too autobiographical- nothing new or original (it reminded me too much of dialogues with relatives). It should be taken into account ...more
Emily
I absolutely LOVED this book. I just finished it and the last 2 pages really inspired me and brought the whole book together. The fact that the book is really 3 separate stories confused me a little bit at first, but I love how the end brings it all to one point. I do wish that I had picked up on the theme of feminism in the beginning; I think that would have been a really good thing to keep in mind the whole book. And I wish they would have had a bibliography or reference page at the end so I w ...more
Kristy
I enjoyed the first two pieces of this and then felt very bogged down in the third. At first it seemed like it was a Pale Fire-esque textual criticism within criticism but that it did not succeed as well as Pale Fire because the critic seemed more like the author than an separate entity. That is, the third piece read sort of like the author just explaining what you just read to you, which didn't do it for me. But then the rant at the end about women taking revenge on men was freaking awesome so ...more
Storyheart
In Slavic folk stories, Baba Yaga is a supernatural crone/ witch /sorceress who lives in a house with chicken feet and flies through the air in a mortar, sometimes hurting and sometimes helping people. Sometimes she's one person and sometimes three. But always, she's old, old, old, so frighteningly old and decrepit.

Dubravka Ugrešić's re-imagining of Baba Yaga's story (part of the Cannongate Myths series) is a triptych. The first part is a wry but mournful reflection by a daughter about her mothe
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*Dragonfly*
"Baba Jaga je snijela jaje" zaista jeste odlican roman.

S zenama u smiraju zivota kao glavnim junacima, koje, kako sama autorka kaze "isprva ne vidimo".

D. Ugresic ozivljava slovenski mit o Baba Jagi, koja se tek moze naslutiti u redovima romana, i tako metaforicki predstavlja starost kao krunu zivotnog ciklusa.

Ugresicka je svakako dovela do reci tu suru pticu, tkalju i vesticu.
Spigana
Blargh. Pirmā daļa bija burvīga. Pie otrās daļas es grāmatu gribēju noslīcināt vannā. Trešā daļa bija diezgan labs akadēmisks pētījums par Babas Jagas vietu slāvu folklorā. Kopējais iespaids- vļē vļē vļē.
Twodogs333
This was my third book in the "World Cup of Literature," hailing from Croatia. So far, this has been my favorite selection. I liked this 3-part book. The first section, told from the point of view of a writer about her aging mother was quirky and interesting. The second section about the mother and her friends who go to a spa for some R &R was also humorous. It did this weird "couplet" thing at the end of each section however, that I found more distracting than useful. Perhaps these parts we ...more
oriana
Apr 10, 2011 oriana marked it as to-read
Recommended to oriana by: MJ Nicholls
Shelves: to-read-soon
I am starting to think I will read anything MJ tells me to.
Alisa
Tasteless (and I'm not referring to the sexuality of the themes). Generally well researched but too subjectively interpreted, notwithstanding several monstrous mistakes, which I'm surprised a Slavic person (someone who should have a close insight into our mythology) could overlook.

To top it off, the book reeks of arrogance and self-rightiousness - both in respect to a kind of indisputable know-it-all manner of myth interpretation and, in the literary parts, the attitude the author shows towards
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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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More about Dubravka Ugrešić...
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“Her mind still worked, her feet still moved, she could walk, though only with the help of a walker, but walk she did, and she was a human being who knew for certainty that beans are best in salad and that old age is a terrible calamity.” 4 likes
“The invisibility in which we live next to one another is appalling, Kukla thought.” 3 likes
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