(Zagreb) Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic, one of Europe’s most influential essayists, died Friday at the age of 73 in the Netherlands where she had lived since the 1990s, her publisher in Zagreb announced.
The writer, mentioned for three years as a potential winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, died in Amsterdam surrounded by members of her family and friends, AFP learned from the Multimedia Institute MI2 in Zagreb, publisher of her books.
The work of Dubravka Ugresic, born March 27, 1949 in Kutina, Croatia, was marked by a rare combination of irony, polemic and compassion, which can be found in particular in her writings on the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
In her home country, she was mainly known for her criticism of nationalism and the wars that broke out when Yugoslavia was torn apart.
She was widely criticized at the time by nationalist media, public figures and peers, including calling her an “unpatriot”, a “traitor” to the nation and even a “witch”. .
Her website says she took a tough stance “critically dissecting backward Croatian and Serbian nationalism, the stupidity and criminality of war.”
“In the process, she became a target for nationalist journalists, politicians and other writers.”
Victim of prolonged public ostracism and persistent media harassment, the University of Zagreb graduate left Croatia in 1993, where the war of independence claimed some 20,000 lives between 1991 and 1995. She lived in Amsterdam since 1996.
Dubravka Ugresic’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and she has won numerous awards for her writing, including the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
She was also a finalist for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2009. After receiving the prize for the best novel in Croatia in 2018 – her first since leaving in 1993 – she had in an interview called for more multiculturalism.
“I believe that a post-national, transnational and intercultural state is what best suits my temperament, my lifestyle, my intellectual and ideological convictions,” she told the internet portal Tportal.