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The Ministry of Pain

by Dubravka Ugresic

Teaching Serbo-Croatian literature to a group of other expats at Amsterdam University should allow Tanya Lucic to explore thoughtfully the end of Yugoslavia: or so it would appear as this absorbing and beautifully written book begins. In fact the five separate chapters of her experiences chart a progression into increasing madness and despair as she begins to question her own identity now that 'her country' is no more.

Extract

There is no such thing as mercy, no such thing as compassion; there is only forgetting, there is only humiliation and the pain of endless memory. That is the lesson we brought with us from the country we came from, and it is a lesson we have not forgotten. Screaming and shouting are like Pavlov's bell to us; we are deaf to everything else.
Translated by Michael Henry Heim

Parallels

Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
 

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