Thursday, October 08, 2009

Herta Müller awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009 has been awarded to the Romanian-born German author Herta Müller who, in the words of the award citation, "with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed".

In The Guardian, Alison Flood writes:
Although Müller left Romania over 20 years ago, she returns constantly to the themes of oppression, exile and dictatorship in her novels and poems, which also include The Appointment, about a young woman during Ceausescu's regime who works in a clothes factory, and sews notes into the suits of men bound for Italy, saying "marry me". Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger, published in English as The Passport, follows the story of a village miller in a German-speaking Romanian village, who applies for permission to emigrate to West Germany. Müller's latest novel Atemschaukel (Everything I Possess I Carry With Me) was published in August, and follows a 17-year-old boy who is deported to a Ukrainian labour camp. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called it "phenomenal, moving and humbling novel, perhaps the most memorable read of the autumn".


  1. james4:37 pm

    Okay, here’s an admission: Yet another recent Nobel laureate whom I’ve never even heard of, and this confession coming from one who has considered himself very well-read and pretty well versed in literature. This is not to diminish Ms. Muller’s achievement, and I congratulate her. I just wonder if, as an American and English-speaker only, I’m somehow missing out on a lot of erstwhile magnificent literature because it isn’t translated into my mother tongue, and if this is so, why? Are we so overwhelmed by the Dan Browns and Stephanie Meyers and Oprah’s choices that a world of great literature is being eclipsed here by the shadow of towering blockbusters?

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  2. I think we do miss out. I used to read a lot of European fiction as a student but I gradually lost the habit. I inherited a friend's book collection when she moved back to Zagreb a few years ago, and for the first time in years I read modern fiction by Greek, German and eastern European writers (in English). Ismial Kadare is now one of my favourite writers; I'd never heard of him before that.

    Harvill publish some great European fiction, but it's rare to see it publicised. Newspaper coverage of foreign fiction (and non fiction) is patchy, with the notable exception of the Saturday Financial Times.

    Scandinavian crime fiction has been doing very well of late. I'm exactly halfway through the Millennium trilogy right now and it'll be interesting to see if, say, Wallander fans carry on reading detective fiction from overseas.

  3. The Nobel Committee does NOT represent Norway
    It is important to let the world know that the members of the Nobel Committee do NOT represent Norway and the Norwegian people.


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