Thursday 6 June 2013
Dubravka Ugresic, Karaoke Culture
Dubravka Ugresic is definitely to be filed under 'remarkable' when it comes to essay writing. I chose Karaoke Culture randomly, not knowing anything about the author, tempted by the title alone and what a wonderful surprise it proved! I actually wanted to re-read the book right after I finished it and that's a rare thing.
So what does Ugresic write about? Contemporary culture, mostly. The book is very fresh, released only in 2011, so it's up to date with our speeding society. The author is familiar with all the tech trends you can think of, plus a handful of fads that you probably have never heard about. I haven't, at least, and Karaoke Culture kept me glued to my browser, checking up on all the leads provided by the text.
I am yet to come across an essayist who would be as accurate in describing our current cultural climate. Ugresic's bittersweet, witty comments on pop phenomena of today are simply delicious. She's not exactly sarcastic but one feels she's silently laughing at all our quirks. Images, fleeting moments, tiny stories in each essay are weaved together into a sparkling mosaic and somehow a message is transmitted between the lines, clearer and louder than any direct statement.
Ugresic was born in Croatia (then - Yugoslavia). She emigrated to the Netherlands after some of her writing made her a target of vicious media campaign during Yugoslavia's break-up, but home country is still clearly visible in her current work. Karaoke Culture was written in Croatian so it probably wasn't meant for the international public anyway. Some Balkan references may be a bit hazy to an average consumer, but they don't really impact the book's readability.
After all, in this age of globalisation and instant communication most of us will recognise the karaoke culture as our own.