08 October 2009
This year’s Nobel Prize for literature goes to Romanian-born German novelist Herta Mueller. The prize recognised her ability to depict “with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose ... the landscape of the dispossessed”.
Mueller is apparently best known for describing the harsh conditions suffered in Romania under the totalitarian rule of the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She began work as a translator but was reportedly sacked after refusing to co-operate with the Securitate, the secret police during the communist regime
She made her literary debut in 1982 with a collection of short stories titled Niederungen, which was promptly censored by the Romanian government. In 1984 an uncensored version was published in Germany and her work depicting life in a small, German-speaking village in Romania was devoured by readers. That work was followed by Oppressive Tango in Romania. She left the country with her husband in 1987.
I am utterly unfamiliar with her work. Sadly there does not seem to be much both in translation and in print here. It sounds like it is definitely well worth reading. I hope this award will result in her work being made available here in the UK.