The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugresic

The Ministry of Pain

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.


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.

  • Two Women by Marianne Fredriksson
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  • Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal

Books with similar mood

Walking Wounded

Sheila Llewellyn

Jia: a Novel of North Korea

Hyejin Kim

A Thread of Grace

Mary Doria Russell


Heather Lewis


Jason Donald

A History of Loneliness

John Boyne

The Wilderness

Samantha Harvey

Death Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa

The Hanging Shed

Gordon Ferris

What Will Survive

Joan Smith


Ian Holding


Prayaag Akbar

Slip of a Fish

Amy Arnold

News from Berlin

Otto de Kat

The Visitors

Patrick O'Keeffe

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

Evie Wyld

Fault Lines

Nancy Huston

Mercy Among the Children

David Adams Richards

A History of Forgetting

Caroline Adderson

Star of the North

D B John


Niccolò Ammaniti

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing

Eimear McBride

The Dark Road

Ma Jian

The White King

Gyorgy Drogoman

Guantanamo: A Novel

Dorothea Dieckmann

The Attack

Yasmina Khadra

The Quarry

Damon Galgut

Assorted Fire Events

David Means


Kathleen Bryson


Hitomi Kanehara


Chuck Palahniuk

The Wake

Paul Kingsnorth


Leϊla Slimani

Eve Out of Her Ruins

Ananda Devi

Merciless Gods

Christos Tsiolkas

Captain of the Steppe

Oleg Pavlov

The Burden of the Desert

Justin Huggler


Mia Gallagher

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Lionel Shriver


Michael Frayn

Requiem for the East

Andrei Makine

The Unquiet Dead

Ausma Zehanat Khan

Then She Was Born

Cristiano Gentili

A Summer of Murder

Oliver Bottini

Go, Went, Gone

Jenny Erpenbeck

I Refuse

Per Petterson


Aatish Taseer

Gotz and Meyer

David Albahari

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

Liz Jensen