The Ministry of Pain tells the story of Tanja Lucic, an exile from Yugoslavia and a lecturer in Serbo-Croatian literature at the University of Amsterdam. I was interested in reading a story about another culture and world view that was so outside of my own. In the long run though I felt like the story didn’t really go anywhere.
Dubravka Ugrešić, a literary scholar and a writer, tries to capture dolorous outcome of people trying to make a living in an alien surrounding, and her main character, Tanja Lucic, shows a similarity with the author of sharing an ideology of anti-war. Tanja’s class is filled with other Yugoslav exiles, not much younger than she, who have found temporary refuge in the Department of Slavonic Languages. Rather than to teach literature, Tanja nudges the students to reconstruct their pasts by writing essays that indulge their “Yugonostalgia” and their memories of Yugoslavia’s culture and disintegration in war.
As the plot which seems real, paces slowly, and it weakens. Though the author has honestly tries to capture the reality through her characters and as her words flow, the book becomes a bit boring with the lack of pace. I am not judging it to be a true story though it is very closely related to reality, but if it’s a fiction, as mentioned it in the book , it should not lack the characteristics of a fiction. Neither has it the characteristics of a non-fiction.
But I am not saying that you must not read the book. It’s up to you. To explore something new, to feel a different emotion, to understand the consequences of war and dividing people according to their ethnicity which are not shown on a television or written in a newspaper due to the work of bad human instances, you should grab it. I can honestly testify that the book is a new and different experience to read. Not much to judge.
2.5 out of 5 from me.