In 1993, Ugrešić went into voluntary exile, first to Berlin and then the US, finally settling in Amsterdam and taking Dutch citizenship. In a 1999 article, she repeated what she had often said: “I myself am neither an émigré nor a refugee nor an asylum seeker. I am a writer who at one point decided not to live in her own country anymore because her country was no longer hers.”
Fellow writers relished her work — Susan Sontag called her “a writer to be cherished” — but unlike many of her contemporaries, Ugrešić predicted the future of publishing too. In 1997, she saw that literature had, fatally, acquired an “aura of glamour”, and that publishers wanted writers to be chiefly “content providers” (the term was new enough then to be carried in quotes). What would become, she asked, of the “outsiders, bookworms, romantics and losers” who used to make up the despised and neglected profession of writers?
She likens the process of writing to “embroidery or carpentry or sewing a garment”, piecing together “beginnings and endings and different parts that echo or match each other . . . To get it right takes time.”
But I am all fingers.