Müller, Herta

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 CeauşescuCeauşescu, Nicolae
, 1918–89, Romanian statesman. The son of a peasant, he early became active in the Romanian Communist movement and was arrested as a revolutionary; he spent the late 1930s and early 40s in prison, where he became acquainted with the future first
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'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, and in 1987 she and her husband, writer Richard Wagner, emigrated 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. Eight of her many works have been translated into English: Nadirs, Cristina and Her Double: Selected Essays (2013), 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), Aternschaukel (2009, tr. The Hunger Angel, 2012), and Fuchs was damais schon der Jäger (1992, tr. The Fox Was Ever the Hunter, 2016). She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.


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