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Herta Muller wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Herta MullerLiteratureNobel Prize

Hertamuller An ethnic German born in Romania, writer Herta Müller has won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. The 56-year-old, who emigrated to Germany in 1987, has made the trials of living under Nicolae Ceauşescu's dictatorship a focus of her work.

In its citation, the Nobel committee wrote that Müller, "with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed."

Müller, a novelist and short-story writer, was considered by some to be among the top authors in the running for the award, although Amos Oz of Israel was the odds-on favorite of British wagering firm Ladbroke's.

Ladbroke's, which had Müller, at 50 to 1, had two American writers as likely winners: Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth. Last year, Horace Engdahl, then permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which distributes the Nobels, caused a stir when he declared American fiction unfit for the award. "Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States," he told the Associated Press. "The U.S. is too isolated, too insular."

Müller's cross-European history may have appealed to this year's judges. She was raised in a German-speaking minority in Romania, but her early writing set her on a collision course with the repressive regime there. After her first two books, she was forbidden from publishing in Romania, leading to her departure for Germany. When she won the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for her novel "The Land of Green Plums," she said, "I wrote this book in memory of my Romanian friends who were killed under the Ceausescu regime. I felt it was my duty." 

"The Land of Green Plums" is one of only four of Müller's 19 books that have been translated into English. The most recent is "The Appointment," published in 2001. Chances are her work will now become more widely available. Although if last year's winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio is an indicator, it may be some time before that happens -- his novel "Desert" took about a year to hit shelves.

In addition to the honor, the Nobel Prize in Literature comes with a hefty financial reward: Herta Müller will receive $1.4 million.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Jens Meyer / Associated Press

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It's amusing to listen to Horace Engdahl's opinions.In the earliest phases of the Nobel Prizes for literature the winners came from Scandinavia,the source of much great literature.Famous Nordic sagas and myths provide a fertile field for Danish,Swedish,German and Norwegian writers,musicians, and their great film directors.As Mark Twain famously said:
Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
Outcries from German,English,and French authors and publishers fell on deaf ears for decades.
The standing Nobel Literature committee did not think other cultures were noteworthy.Like the Oscars,the Nobel was and remains a marketing tool.
The post-imperialist guilt period does not bother Scandinavians who conveniently forgot their own imperialist claims of the 8th,9th,10th,and 11th Century.
Let us be kind to these folks on the committee for they certainly provide new work for unemployed translators.As with many other authors from Central Europe,Asia,South America,Africa the publishers should provide two aids for the readers.
First, an small atlas of the territory covered is very helpful.Secondly,all works should have a family tree of the principals.Names and places plague the readers of fiction.

It`s great. She script about a German fate in the kommunistian Romania of the 80ties.

I am so proud of my Romanian roots. Herta Muller is not just a great writer, but a woman of character.

Post-imperialist guilt period?!?! Come on! Give me/everyone a break! Way to go/ Bravo, Ms Muller!

Once again the overwhelming response to the Noble Prize in Literature is, "Who?"

My wife is Romanian, and has never heard of her. I ordered one of her books (the one that won the IMPAC Dublin--I forget the name).

Go Romania!

"Tarheelchief".... Horace Engdahl! has left the position of standing secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy in early 2009.... and is replaced by Phd (historian) Peter Englund ...an only 50 year old writer, reseacher and scientist in his field: History. (Good writer, though!)

But as a Swede myself - and litterate - the most commom question whenever the prize is announced: defently is "who"?, but not time. (although Joyce Carol Oats was no 1 at the bookies...)

It is terrific that Herta Muller has won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2009. I first became aware of her work in 1998, when she won the 100,000 euro IMPAC-DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD for the chillingly vivid THE LAND OF GREEN PLUMS. Herta Muller is the second Nobel laureate to be recognized first by the IMPAC-Dublin judges. An impressive record.

Herta Muller has a taut, elegant style that is so clear and consuming. She sets a high standard in diction, style and vision. Now, perhaps, more of her novels will be recognized internationally and translatedinto other many languages. I congratulate Ms. Muller for winning the award long deferred.

The thousands of Danube Swabians living in the United States congratulate Herta Mueller on receiving the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. We are extremely proud of her winning this honorable prize as an ethnic German.
Having shared many of her experiences, we understand her motives and writings.
Annerose Goerge


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