Herta Müller: An Afternoon with a Nobel Laureate

17/09/2017 @ British Library (Knowledge Centre), 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Romanian-born German writer Herta Müller, the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature, meets her London readers for an afternoon of great literature and fiery conversation. The iconoclast author, equally famous for her brilliant prose and intransigent public advocacy, will be joined by translator Phillip Boehm.

The Romanian-German author who, “with the concentrate on of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed’” (Nobel Committee), makes her first London appearance in an event organised by the University of Sheffield, in partnership with Swansea University, Université de Moncton, Granta/Portobello Books and the Institute of Modern Languages Research, and with support from the Goethe-Institut London, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the German Embassy and King's College London Modern Languages Research Initiatives.


Herta Müller is a Romanian-born German writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009 for her works revealing the harshness of life in Romania under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu. The award cited Müller for depicting “the landscape of the dispossessed” with “the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose.” Müller, of German Swabian descent, grew up in Banat, a German-speaking region of totalitarian Romania. She attended the University of Timişoara and, as a student, became involved with Aktionsgruppe Banat, a group of writers fighting for the freedom of speech. After graduating, she worked from 1977 to 1979 as a translator at a machine factory, a job from which she was fired for refusing to cooperate with the Securitate, the notoriously vast and ruthless Romanian secret police. Her first book, a collection of short stories titled ‘Niederungen’ (1982; ‘Nadirs’), was censored by the Romanian government, but she won a following in Germany when the complete version of the book was smuggled out of the country. After publishing a second book of stories, ‘Drückender Tango’ (1984; ‘Oppressive Tango’)—which, like her first collection, depicted the general misery of life in a small Romanian village similar to her own German-speaking hometown—she was forbidden to publish again in Romania, and in 1987 she emigrated with her husband, author Richard Wagner, and moved to Germany. Her first novel, ‘Der Mensch ist ein grosser Fasan auf der Welt’ (‘The Passport’), was published in Germany in 1986. Although her circumstances had changed, her work continued to present and examine the formative experiences of her life: themes such as totalitarianism and exile pervade her work. Her style was described by Romanian journalist Emil Hurezeanu as “lively, poetic, [and] corrosive.” Among Müller’s later novels were ‘Reisende auf einem Bein’ (1989; ‘Traveling on One Leg’), ‘Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger’ (1992; ‘The Fox Was Ever the Hunter’), ‘[Herztier’ (1994; T’he Land of Green Plums’), and ‘Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet’ (1997; ‘The Appointment’). In 1998, Müller received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (the world’s richest literary prize) for ‘The Land of Green Plums’. The novel ‘Atemschaukel’ (‘The Hunger Angel’) was published in 2009. In addition to fiction, she published volumes of poetry and essays, including in the latter category ‘Hunger und Seide’ (1995; ‘Hunger and Silk’), ‘Der König verneigt sich und tötet’ (2003; ‘The King Bows and Kills’), and ‘Immer derselbe Schnee und immer derselbe Onkel’ (2011; ‘Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle’).


Where: British Library (Knowledge Centre), 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
When: Sunday 17 September 2017, 3:30pm

Tickets: https://www.bl.uk/events/herta-m%C3%BCller-an-afternoon-with-the-nobel-prize-winner