Born in 1961 in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia, Sreten Ugričić is a novelist, essayist, conceptual artist, astronomer and philosopher, and the author of a collection of short stories and three novels. Although they have received critical acclaim, his books have not yet been translated into English; his novel Neznanom junaku (To an Unknown Hero) was published in German in 2011. In this counter-utopia, Sreten Ugričić demythologises the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince in Sarajevo, which has been celebrated in Serbia for the past century. Ugričić unmasks an oppressed society riven by nationalism. He raises the question in literary terms of what position an individual can adopt in such a society and reflects on the consequences of manipulation by the state and creeping restrictions on freedom.
Sreten Ugričić studied Philosophy at Belgrade University, subsequently working for the Open Society Institute in Priština and Budapest and elsewhere. After the fall of Slobodan Milošević he was named in 2001 as the Director of the National Library of Serbia. In January 2012 he was dismissed from his post by the Serbian government after signing an open letter by the Serbian Writers’ Forum calling for the stopping of the media witch-hunt against the Montenegrin writer Andrej Nikolaidis, who asked in a satirical text for the 20th anniversary of the founding of the ‘Republic of Srpska’ whether it might be a “civilised act” to remove the leadership of the Bosnian entity that is “founded on genocide” with dynamite (he was referring to the discovery of explosives on the evening before the celebrations in Banja Luka) The Serbian press then started its print campaign against Nikolaidis. Sreten Ugričić did not comment on Nikolaidis’ text itself, but merely, together with other literary figures, demanded that the media campaign should cease. /// As of November 23, 2012
“An den unbekannten Helden”
“Hier oben befindet sich die grosse Antenne des HS, des Hauptsenders, der ganz Serbien abdeckt. Aber seit Jahren schon funktioniert er nicht. Er droht nur. Hoch oben und furchterregend ist der Sender, er sieht aus wie das vergrösserte Megaphon des Diktators. […] Der Diktator diktiert. Serbien ist auf diese eine und einzige Frequenz eingestellt. Das Surren ist unerträglich. Der HS, der Hauptsender, versprüht schnelle knisternde Blitze.”
— From “An den unbekannten Helden” (Berlin, Dittrich Verlag 2011), translated from Serbian to German by Masa Dabic
Sreten Ugričić talks to Beatrice Stoll (left) and Melinda Nadj Abonji at the Literaturhaus Zurich. Photo Ralph Hut