cover image Baba Yaga Laid an Egg

Baba Yaga Laid an Egg

Dubravka Ugresic, Author, Ellen Elias-Bursac, Translator, Celia Hawkeswo

Ugresic's postmodern take on myth, femininity, and aging provides a beautifully written window into Slavic literature, but eventually becomes bogged down in competing narrative threads. The tangentially related sections of the narrative triptych, while uneven as a whole, provide lovely moments in each. In the first, more melancholy section, the narrator recounts her mother's encroaching Alzheimer's while fulfilling her last wishes and remembering the tenets she lived by (old age is a terrible calamity; beans are best in salad). In the second, most humorous, and oblique section, three old friends let their hair down at a high-end resort, replete with a charming, young faux-Turkish masseur; and in the third, a scholar provides background on Baba Yaga myths (Baba Yaga is the witch of Slavic fairy tales). Ugresic's meditations on the attempts of aging women to avoid becoming either short-haired desexualized hags or dotty creatures surrounded by cats are worth the overly esoteric tone that keeps the characters from becoming entirely engrossing. (Feb.)