The Ministry of Pain

The Ministry of Pain

Translated by Michael Henry Heim


Out of stock

9781846590399 February 2008 Paperback 272pp

About the Book


No going back, no moving forward: in the aftermath of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and in search of residency visas, Tanja Ludic and her pupils land in the Department of Slavonic Languages and Literature at the University of Amsterdam.

There Tanja must teach the literature of ex-Yugoslavia to ex-Yugoslavs. Adrift in a safe Dutch limbo, they struggle not only to make ends meet but to make sense of their displacement.

Tanja chooses to lead her students on a course in ‘Yugonostalgia’. and these shared, knowing rememberances of a vanished era temporarily infuse them with new vitality. But their fragile classroom bonds unravel when tragic events force them all to deal face-to-face with the consequences of the violent disintegration of their homeland.

About the Author

Dubravka Ugresic was one of Europe’s most distinctive novelists and essayists. Her writing has been compared to that of Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Brodsky, Milan Kundera and Virginia Woolf, and has been translated into more than thirty languages. When war broke out in the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Ugresic took a firm anti-war stance, becoming a target for nationalist journalists, politicians and writers, which led her to leave Croatia in 1993. Ugresic was the winner of several major literary prizes, including the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1998; Jean Améry Essay Prize 2012 and the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. She lived in Amsterdam.

About the Translator

Michael Henry Heim is a Professor of Slavic Languages, at the University California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He received his doctorate at Harvard in 1971. He is an active and prolific translator, and is fluent in Czech, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian.


'Urgresic builds her place of art out of the blood-soaked debris of politics.'

'A brave, accomplished, cultured novel, sombre and witty ... This is Ugresic at her best.'

'Like Nabakov, Ugresic affirms our ability to remember as a source for saving our moral and compassionate identity.'
Washington Post

'Her work is unflinching and provocative ... This is a disturbing read that should have you in its thrall.'
The Times

Marina Warner

'A writer to be cherished.'
Susan Sontag

'An edgy, extraordinary novel.'
Sunday Times