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Baba Yaga Laid an Egg

(Canongate's The Myths #11)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,650 ratings  ·  257 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 end o
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Canongate Books (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  1,650 ratings  ·  257 reviews

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Amalia Gkavea
  ‘’Sweet little old ladies. At first you don’t see them. And then, there they are, on the tram, at the post office, in the shop, at the doctor’s surgery, on the street, there is one, there is another, there is a fourth over there, a fifth, a sixth, how could there be so many of them all at once?’’

Having read Fox, which proved to be a religiously profound experience, I could’n wait to get my hands on another Ugrešić book. This one tempted me with its title and folklore and whatnot and I was cert
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: balkan

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.
...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. He
MJ Nicholls
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
Baba Yaga is a creature of legend in many Slavic cultures. She is usually depicted as an old woman with supernatural powers. She could play the role of a wise woman helping the quest of the hero or that of a witch intent on devouring little children. In short, Baba Yaga is a culmination of sexist attitudes towards women over time. We all have these characters in our respective cultures. Here, Dubravka Ugrešić has tried to deconstruct the myth of this woman and connect it to feminism and old age. ...more
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
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Despite the third part being a bit long (but highly informative about Slavic culture and folklore), the novel is an excellent read, dynamic, with a hint of mystery, but believable, the characters are interesting and complex, the situations regarding getting old and the family and friendship relations easy to read, but deep, I highly recommend it, you can even skip the third, (quasi)encyclopaedic part and read it separately from the novelistic part of the book, but you get a new layer of the nove ...more
Emily M
3.5 stars, rounded down for enjoyability.

An erudite, pointed and intriguing contribution to the Canongate Myths series. Dealing with Russian folklore mainstay Baba Yaga and her various regional dopplegangers, this is a book that questions why old women are so often grotesque and a force of evil in classic stories (and perhaps still today), and considers the ageing female body and mind, and fallout from the breakup of Yugoslavia, from a number of perspectives.

The text is unabashedly post-modern.
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
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn’t aware of ‘Baba Yaga’ the Slavic folktale, but this modern take was still a fun read.

The book is made up of three stories, my favourite was the second that features three elderly ladies visiting a spar resort in the Czech Republic.

Ugresic style made for a fun read, I’m glad that I picked this book for Croatia.
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Aug 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know very much about 'Baba Yaga' and that was my main interest in this novel. Plus it's being written by a woman writer & translated. However, if it had anything to do with Baba Yaga, I've completely missed the point...

There are 3 parts to this novel. The first part was told from the perspective of a daughter about her elderly mother. Her mother is in her 70s and is starting to seem frail in her daughter's eyes. However, Beba, the elderly mother, is still independent and showing all kind
Charles Dee Mitchell
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary-lit
Ugresic’s novel consists of a short introduction on the presence, or non-presence, of old women in modern society, and moves into two apparently unrelated narratives. In the first, a successful Yugoslavian author and academic deals with her aging and difficult mother. These chapters are realistic, funny, and sad and detail a situation many readers of a certain age will either know from experience or might find themselves facing soon. In part two, a group of elderly women visit a spa, and there t ...more
Nate D
A thematic tryptich riffing off of the classic witch character of the Slavic folkloric world (and far beyond, as we see in the book). Ugresic presents this as a kind of inversion of Nicole Brosard's three-part masterpiece Mauve Desert, where instead of two versions of the narrative sandwiching an essayistic extrapolation, Ugresic catches her core narrative between non-fictional echoes of two flavors. Which, I suppose, is the usual academic annotation format: preface, text, afterword.

Urgesic wri
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, funny, interesting and super informative book (part essay, part novel and part academic article) on Baba Yaga’s figure in Slavic mythology and folklore.
Sorin Hadârcă
The novel inside the novel is quite intriguing and I admit enjoying it, but than she makes this mess of a porridge by providing dubious references from folklore, I dunno. Maybe she felt the novel is incomplete or, maybe, she thought it gives away too much and tried to conceal its meaning by providing a plentiful of readings. Kind of post-modernist counter-weight.
Dubravka Ugrešić is one of those authors not afraid to challenge – in The Ministry of Pain she fronts up to the unsettling cultural politics of Yugo-nostalgia among an expatriated group of citizens of the new-former-Yugoslavian republics, while in essays she tends to take on the cultural worlds of publishing and American industrialised popular culture; she has not really earned herself many friends among the new voices of the former Yugoslavia. Yet, here, she shifts voice and tone resulting ...more
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
I liked this book, but it was slow going. I like the female-centric theme and the focusing on aging women in society. But it was tough going. This could be because it was from a Slavic culture which is foreign to me.

I would love to learn more about this culture, especially their folklore. There was a nice section in the back of the book which expanded on the culture and symbolism of Croatian/Russian/Slavic folklore and the story of Baba Yaga in particular.
Nina ( picturetalk321 )
A few pages before the end, the author breaks the fourth wall: "It seems, dear editor, that the moment has come for us to part. I hope the sudden change of tone won't confuse you [...] In some places you sighed with boredom, in others you yawned, in others again your forehead creased in a frown. You had fiendish folklore coming out of your ears."

All this is true. I was bored. I was annoyed. And I felt intense tedium at the arty 'Literary' device of false self-reflection and assuming who I, the r
"Our whole life is a search for love... Our search is frustrated by numerous snares that lie in wait for us on our journey. One of the most dangerous snares is time. We need only be one second late and we will have lost our chance of happiness."

A tedious read. Maybe a little too meta for its own good??

In my opinion, the journey would've been more enjoyable had the story been restructured as Aba's manuscript review (manuscript being Parts 1 and 2) with Aba's "Remarks" worked in throughout the "ma
Ciaran Monaghan
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fun surprise discovered after looking for a different book (The Museum of Unconditional Surrender) by Ugrešić. I hadn't heard of Baba Yaga, a witch who crops up in stories across the Slavic world, and as a Slavophile, it certainly interested me.

It wasn't what I expected either, starting with two strange stories about old ladies with only vague references to witches. But it all came together with the final part, where an academic of Slavic myth breaks down the repeating motifs of the B
Sophy H
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic! It left me a little dumbfounded as to how to review it as I've never come across anything like it before. It's one of those books that makes you think whaaaaat?!!

Part folklore, part imagination run wild, part feminist rally!

The first two parts of the book consider the tale of interconnected female characters who, although don't seem to be doing much at all, are actually on their own little adventure of life. Little snippets of information are dropped throughout to make
This novel didn't really work for me. I started reading it thinking it was going to be something and it turned out to be another so I'm pretty much the one to blame here. Novels were there is nothing really driving the plot don't really work for me.
I love the legend of Baba Yaga and this is my second retelling of this story and the second time it doesn't work out, unfortunately.
Despite the fact that I didn't really enjoy this book, I could tell that the writing was solid and the few ideas about
Lekeisha The Booknerd
Baba Yaga Laid An Egg throws caution to the wind and gives you glimpses of what it's like to be an aging woman. I love this. When society sees an older woman, they see just that, an older woman. Never forget these women are still alive. They have desires, dreams, goals; they aren't expected to just roll over and die. Or be cranky and mean, shaking their sticks at all the passersby. What a great take on the Baba Yaga folklore. She is a Slavic heavyweight, after all. That should tell you a lot. Sh ...more
William O'Hanley
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
"Oh, life is so confused! And then stories like this one come like a bolt of lightning out of the blue and turn the picture we have of others on its head. Perhaps that is why people hang on so desperately to their stubborn little truths, because who knows, if everything was put together, as in this case, people would fall apart. It is the brutal truth that what we know about other people can be contained in an insultingly small package." ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i picked up this book because of mary gaitskill's review, which i didn't even finish yet because i had to go get the book. just like she says, the beginning is a little slow, a little mysterious. BUT THE MIDDLE PART cracked me up. and the ending - well, let's just say i like an ending with a roar. ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Canongate's The Myths (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • A Short History of Myth
  • The Penelopiad
  • Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles
  • The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
  • Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson
  • Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams
  • Anna In w grobowcach świata
  • Girl Meets Boy
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26 likes · 3 comments
“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.” 8 likes
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