The Passport

The Passport

3.6 15
by Herta Muller, Martin Chalmers
     
 

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Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

"With the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, Muller depicts the language of the dispossessed."—Jury of the Nobel Prize for Literature

"[Müller’s] dark, closely observed and sometimes violent work often explores exile and the grim quotidian realities of life under Ceausescu. . . . Her

Overview

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

"With the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, Muller depicts the language of the dispossessed."—Jury of the Nobel Prize for Literature

"[Müller’s] dark, closely observed and sometimes violent work often explores exile and the grim quotidian realities of life under Ceausescu. . . . Her sensibility is often bleak, but the detail in her fiction can whip it alive."—New York Times

The Passport is a beautiful, haunting novel whose subject is a German village in Romania caught between the stifling hopelessness of Ceaucescu's dictatorship and the glittering temptations of the West. Stories from the past are woven together with the problems Windisch, the village miller, faces after he applies for permission to migrate to West Germany. Herta Müller describes with poetic attention the dreams and superstitions, conflicts and oppression of a forgotten region, the Banat, in the Danube Plain. In sparse, poetic language, Müller captures the forlorn plight of a trapped people.

Herta Müller was born in Timis, Romania in 1953. A vocal member of the German minority, she was forced to leave the country in 1987, and moved to Berlin, where she still lives. In 2009 she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This English-language debut by a Romanian-born West Berliner is remarkable for its stylistic purity. Muller's angry tale of an ethnic German anxious to emigrate from his stultifying Romanian village is relayed in deceptively straightforward sentences (``Katharina had sold her winter coat for ten slices of bread. Her stomach was a hedgehog. Every day Katharina picked a bunch of grass. The grass soup was warm and good'') that pile up in striking patterns (later, ``the second snow came. . . . The hedgehog stabbed''). Intently focused prose animates the parochial town with its corrupt power brokers, gamey folk songs and a tree reputed to have eaten its own apples, as well as the problematic relations among the central character, his embittered wife and their nubile daughter, who, like her mother before her during the war, is forced to grant sexual favors to men of privilege. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

"With the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, Müller depicts the language of the dispossessed" -Jury of the Nobel Prize for Literature

"Appropriately on the side of underdogs from Ceausescu's dystopia to Ukrainian labour camps ... so opening the eyes of non-German readers to new worlds. And that, from Beowulf to Müller, is a noble as well as a Nobel function of literature" -The Times

"Especially now, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's a beautiful signal that such high quality literature and this life experience are being honoured" -Angela Merkel

"[Muller's] dark, closely observed and sometimes violent work often explores exile and the grim quotidian realities of life under Ceausescu... Her sensibility is often bleak, but the detail in her fiction can whip it alive" -New York Times

"Müller has an eye for the surreal detail of a police state and has made it into strong, muscular literature" -The Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781852421397
Publisher:
Serpent's Tail Publishing Ltd
Publication date:
09/28/1989
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
552,950
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.30(d)

Meet the Author

Herta Müller was born in Timis, Romania in 1953. A vocal member of the German minority, she was forced to leave the country in 1987, and moved to Berlin, where she still lives. In 2009 she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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The Passport 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
During the brutal reign of Ceausescu, Windisch wants out of his German village in Romania. In fact he wants out of the country that feels everywhere in his mind as the end instead of a beginning or even a middle. The coffin with the Widow Kroner's name on it symbolizes how he feels as the box remains empty waiting for her to die. Last year to gain a passport to go to West Berlin, he tried bribing the mayor with sacks of flour, but that only left him hungry. The village miller has tried using his daughter and his bitter wife, but so far has been rejected for the passport he needs to go to the west. Amalie with her crystal vase and Katharina who survived five Russian winters by selling her coat and more to make grass soup struggle in the village where women survive by sexual favors to the male elite. This is a translation of a 1980s indictment of Ceausescu and the Communists who destroyed Romania economically and morally. To survive under the reign even in a tiny remote village, one had to bribe the leaders with whatever one had to include a pretty daughter. The cast makes the tale work while the stark grim brusque writing will stun the audience with its deep message that tyranny at any level destroys. Harriet Klausner
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing style is original and touching since I was born in Romania
sex_booze_hardluv More than 1 year ago
Undeniably brilliant