Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nobel Prize for Literature Goes to a Dennouncer of Communist Dehumanization

Given that in the recent past the Nobel Committee for Literature has tended to recognize mostly writers with socialist or communist inclinations (examples here, here, and here), it's good news that this year they chose to give the Prize to a dennouncer of communist dehumanization, Herta Mueller. As explained in this WSJ aritcle:

Born in Romania in 1953, Ms. Müller grew up there as part of a German speaking minority. Her father had served in the Waffen SS during World War II, and her mother was one of many Germans deported to the Soviet Union in 1945. Her latest novel "Atemschaukel," published this year, depicts the exile of German Romanians in the Soviet Union.

Though Ms. Müller left Romania for Germany in 1987, she continued to wrestle with the themes of oppression and exile in her novels and poems. Her novel "The Appointment," published in the U.S. in 2001, portrays a young woman working in a clothes factory during Ceausescu's regime. "Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jaeger," published as "The Passport" in English, and 1999's "The Land of the Green Plums" also offer portraits of the daily life in a soulless dictatorship. ...

Sara Bershtel, publisher of Metropolitan Books, which published "The Land of Green Plums" and "The Appointment," said that Ms. Muller's books creates an atmosphere of suspicion that becomes increasingly intense. "Her work is very concentrated, very spare," Ms. Bershtel said.

"Her books are set during a time of totalitarianism, but she never mentions that," Ms. Bershtel said. "Instead, she focuses on what life and relationship are like in that climate. It's about what people wear, what they eat, how they talk."

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