Nadirs

Overview

Juxtaposing reality and fantasy, nightmares and dark laughter, Nadirs is a collection of largely autobiographical stories based on Herta Muller's childhood in the Romanian countryside. The individual tales reveal a child's often nightmarish impressions of life in her village. Seamlessly mixing reality with dreamlike images, they brilliantly convey the inner, troubled life of a child and at the same time capture the violence and corruption of life under an oppressive state.

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Overview

Juxtaposing reality and fantasy, nightmares and dark laughter, Nadirs is a collection of largely autobiographical stories based on Herta Muller's childhood in the Romanian countryside. The individual tales reveal a child's often nightmarish impressions of life in her village. Seamlessly mixing reality with dreamlike images, they brilliantly convey the inner, troubled life of a child and at the same time capture the violence and corruption of life under an oppressive state.

Herta Mailer has been one of the most prolific and acclaimed German-language writers of the last decade. Born in 1953 in the Banat, a (German-language region of Romania, she emigrated to West Berlin in 1987 and currently resides in Hamburg. She has received numerous literary awards, including the Kleist Prize. In 1998 her novel The Land of Green Plums was awarded the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Alan Cheuse - All Things Considered
"The world of the village, as Müller celebrates it, rustles on these pages. Each line, each paragraph, such a wedding of insight and the fantastic that I could scarcely hold the book without trembling."—Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered
Alan Cheuse
"The world of the village, as Müller celebrates it, rustles on these pages. Each line, each paragraph, such a wedding of insight and the fantastic that I could scarcely hold the book without trembling."

— Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered

Alan Cheuse

"The world of the village, as Müller celebrates it, rustles on these pages. Each line, each paragraph, such a wedding of insight and the fantastic that I could scarcely hold the book without trembling."—Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
M ller, whose The Land of the Green Plums won the 1998 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, turns a dark and steady eye on Communist Romania in her first collection, published in Romania in 1982 and in Germany two years later. Newly translated into English as part of the University of Nebraska's European Women Writers Series, these tales are based on M ller's experience growing up in the German-speaking region of Banat. The 15 stories are melodious but sober in tone, echoing an overwhelmingly oppressive social atmosphere. It's bluntly stated that boys are injured in local factories and mothers' lives are unrelentingly harsh; meanwhile, M ller imbues a trip to the barber or a ride on the intervillage bus with colorful, surreal twists. Shaky sexual initiations become sonorous incantations. In "The Funeral Sermon," M ller recreates the dissociative chaos of a child at her father's funeral. She hears of his atrocious war crimes and of his predatory sexuality, but it's unclear whether the girl is a reliable narrator, or even if she's awake. The substantial title story also explores a child's perceptions of her family and environment, related in spasmodic bursts of poetic clarity: "The frost flowers devour their own leaves, they have faces like milky blind eyes." This is followed by childish petulance: "When I grow up I'll cook frost flowers, I'll speak during meals, and I'll drink water after every bite." Most of these impressionistic pieces are bursting with breathtaking, earthy details: a mother washes her toddler in the tub with a pair of panties; a girl explores her sexuality, observing that "my silky gray skirt is a silent bell"; vivid colors saturate farm animals; and family dynamics suggest both otherworldly tethers and mundane brutalities. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
M ller, who won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for The Land of Green Plums, is considered one of the most gifted contemporary German-language writers, a claim this newly translated collection of stories would seem to prove. Once again, M ller takes us back to Communist Romania. But unlike her previous work, Nadirs is a very personal book, as much about M ller's own family sagas as it is about the inescapable scars of communism. Perhaps the most pertinent word to describe this dainty collection is contradiction--the narratives portray what is real and undeniable in a surreal and almost absurd way, yet the seemingly unadorned storytelling demands the maximum concentration from the reader. Originally published in German ten years ago, this book was well worth the wait; it is an important achievement in contemporary Eastern European literature.--Mirela Roncevic, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nadirs ( paper Sept. 8; 134 pp.; 0-8032-3197-0; paper 0-8032-8254-0): This 1982 collection of 15 related stories—the first book published by the Romanian-born author of The Land of Green Plums (1996), etc.—is an episodic history of Romanian village life under Communist domination; a child's-eye view of family unhappiness and conflict symbolic of larger disturbances (most vividly presented in the long title story), juxtaposing painful personal history ("The Funeral Sermon") against more generalized images of irrepressible sexuality and violence both in human beings and in the natural world ("Rotten Pears," "The Man with the Matchbox"). Müller is a fearless writer, whose tales are steeped in ugly confrontational detail; one thinks, here and there, of Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird, but Nadirs (so named for the "low lands" that are its specific locale) is a work of striking originality and power.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Herta Müller, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, has been one of the most prolific and acclaimed German-language writers of the last two decades. Born in 1953 in the Banat, a German-language region of Romania, she emigrated to West Berlin in 1987 and currently lives in Berlin.

 
Sieglinde Lug is a professor emerita of German and comparative literature at the University of Denver.

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Table of Contents

The Funeral Sermon 1
The Swabian Bath 6
My Family 8
Nadirs 10
Rotten Pears 77
Oppressive Tango 85
The Window 90
The Man with the Matchbox 93
Village Chronicle 95
About German Mustaches and Hair Parts 106
The Intervillage Bus 109
Mother, Father, and the Little One 112
The Street Sweepers 115
Black Park 117
Workday 119
Afterword 121
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