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tagesmann

Herta Müller
The Land of Green Plums

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From the back cover...

Set in Romania at the height of Ceauşescu’s reign of terror, The Land of Green Plums tells the story of a group of young students, each of whom has left the impoverished provinces in search of better prospects in the city. It is a profound illustration of a totalitarian state which comes to inhabit every aspect of life; to the extent that everyone, even the strongest, must either bend to the oppressors, or resist them and perish.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel. I did wonder how much was fiction as how much was based on the author's own experiences before she left Romania.  It is powerful, emotive, involving and subtle. 

Both the narrator and the author are Romanian ethnic Germans.  The book was originally published in German as Hertzier which translates as Heart-beast; a theme that runs through the narrative.

The language and structure is unusual but works.  The English version must capture the original style perfectly because it is so unique.

 

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I started to create a new thread for this book in 21st Century Fiction before I realised that it was published in the 90s.

 

Then I realised I had not done the book justice in my original posting.  So here is a bit more.

 

This is a very powerful story.  And beautifully written.  I'm not sure what you would call the style.  It's something like a prose peom, but not.  It only takes a page or two and then it seems to flow.

 

The narrator is one of a group of ethnic Germans who are under the eye of the Romanian secret police during Ceauescu's reign of terror, The Land of Green Plums tells the story of a group of young people who have moved from their rural provinces to the city to go to college.  They are (I guess) dissidents by accident.  They collect and keep diaries, poems and prose written by themselves and others, and photographs.  All of which would be confiscated by the authorities.  But the book is also peopled with supporting characters, "ordinary" Romanians, family members, officials; some of whom we get to know better than the narrator and her friends,

 

The author won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2009.

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