Herta Müller

Müller, Herta, 1953–, Romanian-born German author, grad. Timişoara Univ. (1976). A member of Romania's German-speaking minority, she was active in a group of dissident writers who opposed Ceauşescu's regime. She worked (1977–79) as a translator, but was fired after refusing to inform for the secret police. Müller has written in German throughout her career. Her first works, the short stories in Niederungen (tr. Nadirs, 1999), were published in a censored version in Romania (1982) and an uncensored one in Germany (1984). In 1984 her novel Drückender Tango [oppressive tango] appeared in Romania. Both books describe a life of pettiness, conformity, intolerence, and corruption in a Romanian village much like her own. Her criticism of the state led to her being banned from publishing in Romania. In 1987 she and her husband, writer Richard Wagner, immigrated to West Germany. Müller has continued to produce novels and essays that graphically portray the oppressions of fascism, the authoritarian ugliness and cruelty of communism, and the sorrows of political exile—paradoxically written in an expressive, imagistic prose of lyrical simplicity. Six of her many works have been translated into English: Nadirs and the novels Der Mensch ist ein grosser Fasan auf der Welt (1986, tr. The Passport, 1989), Reisende auf einem Bein (1989, tr. Traveling on One Leg 1998), Herztier (1994, tr. The Land of Green Plums, 1996), Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet (1997, tr. The Appointment, 2001), and Aternschaukel (2009, tr. The Hunger Angel, 2012). She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.

See studies by B. Haines, ed. (1998) and L. Marven (2005).

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