Herta Müller; Translated by Michael Hulse and Philip Boehm
From the winner of the IMPAC Award and the Nobel Prize, a fierce novel about a young Romanian woman's discovery of betrayal in the most intimate reaches of her life
"I've been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp." Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men's suits bound for Italy. "Marry me," the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country.
As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary, to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them, to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers, and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust, despite his constant drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop to find herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the appointment pale by comparison.
Herta Müller pitilessly renders the humiliating terrors of a crushing regime. Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment confirms her standing as one of Europe's greatest writers.
Nobel Prize in Literature
I've been summoned. Thursday, at ten sharp.
Lately I'm being summoned more and more often: ten sharp on Tuesday, ten sharp on Saturday, on Wednesday, Monday. As if years were a week, I'm amazed that winter comes so close on the heels of late...
Praise for The Appointment
“Herta Müller’s prose is as haunting as a cloud that won’t go away, brittle like ice that won’t ever crack, and sharp like plum brandy you’ll never wish to forget. Hers is the voice of a world forever slipping into a vertigo of silent rage while desperately struggling to be human—a world which confuses kindness with cruelty because it has already confused good and evil.” —André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt
“A brooding, fog-shrouded allegory of life under the long oppression of the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.” —The New York Times
“Müller scatters narrative bombshells across a field of dreams.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A slim, masterfully written tale.” —Newsweek
“A taut and brilliant book.” —Chicago Tribune
“Powerful. . . Müller achieves something beautiful. She has wrested poetry from one woman's desire to remain human in an inhuman system.” —Newsday
“With terse poetry, Müller brings to life a profoundly moving world. . . The lyrical beauty of the prose and its unflinching moral and emotional honesty carry the reader.” —Bookforum