>Neither had I. She has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature.
More significantly, neither had the beau, who is knows a lot about European literature. Wikipedia, in its entry on Müller, says that prior to the award, Müller was little-known outside Germany and even there was known only among a minority of intellectuals and literary critics.
Her writings look like they would fit right in with the other books on my shelves, many of which deal with people trying to remain alive and human under communism, nazism, or any other repressive regime. I plan to pick up a copy of Atemschaukel (the English title, when it comes out, will be Everything I Possess I Carry With Me) pretty soon.
It’s also a welcome story within a larger topic which gets a lot of criticism just for being a topic — the post-war deportation of ethnic Germans from eastern European lands, force-marched either westward into Germany (those that made it alive were the lucky ones) or to Soviet gulags, as was the case with Müller’s own mother.
I am reminded of Gregor Himmelfarb, whose book about his post-war experiences shares similarities with Müller’s latest protagonist, Leo Auberg. Himmelfarb was born in the state of Mecklenburg, Germany, and grew up in the ethnic-German region Siebenbürgen, in Romania. When Germans in Romania were required to obtain Aryan identity cards, Himmelfarb learned for the first time that his Russian father was Jewish. Managing to survive the war, he then faced new difficulties for being the son of a factory-owning “exploitative capitalist”, and above all for being “German”. The Israeli immigration services weren’t much help, as they considered him “not Jewish” (he was finally able to emigrate in 1952.)
Every group of people is made up of individuals, all with their own stories. And, as Herta Müller shows, there are so many unheard stories out there worth learning.
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