Read Hengityskeinu by Herta Müller Jukka-Pekka Pajunen Online


Vuoden 2009 nobelisti kuvaa nuoren miehen selviytymistaistelua Stalinin vankileirillä intiimisti, kuin ihon alta17-vuotias romaniansaksalainen Leo Auberg lähetetään neuvostoliittolaiselle pakkotyöleirille sodan lopulla, puna-armeijan vallattua Romanian. Viisi vuotta hän lapioi hiiltä kemiantehtaan kellarissa. Konkreettiset havainnot - suolaheinän sitkeys, hiililapion sydämVuoden 2009 nobelisti kuvaa nuoren miehen selviytymistaistelua Stalinin vankileirillä intiimisti, kuin ihon alta17-vuotias romaniansaksalainen Leo Auberg lähetetään neuvostoliittolaiselle pakkotyöleirille sodan lopulla, puna-armeijan vallattua Romanian. Viisi vuotta hän lapioi hiiltä kemiantehtaan kellarissa. Konkreettiset havainnot - suolaheinän sitkeys, hiililapion sydämen muoto - pitävät elämässä kiinni, kun nälkä on viedä voiton.Leirillä onnelliset muistot perheestä merkitsevät paljon, mutta vapautumisen jälkeen Leo etääntyy läheisistään, kun omille kokemuksille ei löydy enää sanoja. Lopulta kuitenkin juuri sanoista tulee Leon voimakkain ravinto ja syvin pelastus.Romaani pohjautuu Müllerin ystävän runoilija Oskar Pastiorin vaiheisiin.Suomennokselle on myönnetty vuoden 2011 Mikael Agricola -palkinto....

Title : Hengityskeinu
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789511244950
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 291 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Hengityskeinu Reviews

  • William1
    2019-03-09 07:26

    A book which must not be rushed through, that's how beautiful the language is. It's hard to believe it was translated from the German. A book about the will to live, among other things, and the richness of life even under horribly reduced circumstances. To read it merely as an account of life in the Gulag would be too limiting. It goes much deeper.Late in life a gay man remembers what it was like to be transported from his family home in Romania to the Russian Gulag. It was 1945 and he was a 17-year old ethnic German and so must be made to pay for the crimes of Hitler. Romania had been a combatant allied with the Axis Powers. Needless to say, this young man had nothing to do with the war. Moreover, what should have been for him a memorable period of sexual awakening, was in fact a time when homosexuality was a crime punishable by death, a time when Stalin—the murderer of 25 to 50 million of his own people—still ruled. The novel is based on the true story of the poet Oskar Pastior who lived just long enough to give Herta Müller the background for the novel. That's why it's so filled with authentic facts and vivid description. Every little trick of survival is recalled. How he starved is given particular depth and resonance. With regard to the small cooking fires inmates would make to prepare meals in the evening, the narrator says:When I had nothing to cook, the smoke snaked through my mouth. I drew in my tongue and chewed on nothing. I swallowed my spit with the evening smoke and thought about bratwurst. When I had nothing to cook, I walked close to the pots and pretended that I was on my way to brush my teeth at the well before going to bed. But by the time I put my toothbrush in my mouth I had already eaten twice. First I ate the yellow fire with the hunger of my eyes and then the smoke with the hunger of my mouth. As I ate, everything around me went still, all I could hear was the rumble of the coke ovens from the factory yard. The faster I tried to leave the well, the slower I went. I had to tear myself away from the little fires. In the rumble of the coke ovens I heard my stomach growling, the whole scene was filled with hunger. The skies sank back onto the earth, and I staggered back to the yellow light of the barrack.Dear friends, a moment of silence . . .

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-03-13 02:29

    Through the story of one young man, this Nobel Prize winning author tells us the relatively unknown story of thousands of Romanians of German descent who, apparently in retaliation for WW II, were forced into Russian work camps. These people were not prisoners of war; they were men and women rounded up from their homes who lived for five years in borderline starvation eating only two meals of watery cabbage soup and a slice of bread every day. They were so hungry that they traded slices of bread with each other, often several times, because the other person’s slice always looked bigger. Occasionally they begged for food in a neighboring village or cooked edible weeds gathered from the roadside. Hunger became so all-pervasive in their lives that “it was an object” and the Hunger Angel was surely the devil. No medical care was available and those who died were buried out back.In blister-inducing wooden shoes (small or large, so none fit) they shoveled coal into a power plant and worked cement to make concrete blocks. Muller’s descriptions of how you shovel coal or handle cement and its dust shows she had an informant who filled her in in great detail, or she tried it herself. During the last year they were suddenly paid some minimal wages and the hunger ended. Then they were freed. The young man feels forgotten and displaced at home by the birth of a baby brother. He feels lost in a strange world; clearly PTSD. A frightening book.

  • Tony
    2019-03-19 04:12

    So, I started reading this book and it was just one of those One Day in the Life of …… kind of Russian Gulag books, and not much of one, really, as these things go, although it promised to be different because Leo Auberg is Transylvanian, a German transplant if you will. As if Stalin needs a reason. Leo is seventeen, and gay, but that’s not why he’s packed away. His bathhouse urges are just flecks of character. If they knew he was gay, he would have gone to a different camp, a shorter stay, and no return.He wasn’t much of a rabble-rouser; and too doughy to be a German soldier. His parents, who believed in the black square of Hitler’s mustache got to stay. Somehow, only Leo was on the List. He packed and went, packed and went, carrying silent baggage.So here he is, where his constant companion is The Hunger Angel.*But then I took the book to breakfast. There, amid the bustle of morning souls, I read this:From all around the mess hall came the clatter of tin. Every spoonful is a tin kiss, I thought. And every one of us is ruled by our hunger, as though by an alien power. But no matter how well I knew that in the moment, I forgot it right away.**Did the translator err? While it can be grammatically correct for every one of us to be ruled by our hunger, that's only so when it's a collective hunger. Leo's hunger is very personal, instead. This is what they mean, I think, when they give Müller prizes, and say she speaks of identity and displacement, of the dispossessed.This book talks about Hunger, yes, but not a whiny Hamsun hunger. Sometimes the hunger is Homesickness, but a more profound version - not just missing home, but not being allowed to be home. The impossibility of Home.In the camp we had lice on our heads, in our eyebrows, on our necks, in our armpits, and in our pubic hair. We had bedbugs in our bunks. We were hungry. But we didn't say: I have lice or bedbugs or I'm hungry. We said: I'm homesick. Which was the last thing we needed.Oh, you say, maybe the translator got it right, speaking to the universal. It may be that I'm the old gap-toothed man in the upper-left corner of a wedding photo that doesn't exist, and simultaneously a skinny child in a schoolyard that also doesn't exist.Leo gets out of camp, out of his arbitrary five-year sentence. He comes home, but is still homesick. He left his Hunger Angel in the camp, but is still hungry. He gets married, but he still goes to the park.This book is about nothing less than the human soul. Some souls wind up face down in a mortar pit; some souls watch a cuckoo clock, even when the cuckoo is stolen; some souls get theirs, in a culvert, a mouth gagged with a tie, an axe, having done its work, left on the chest; some souls survive.----- ----- ----- -----*The German title, Atemschaukel, is a compound word Müller made up - she does that - that is difficult to translate, meaning something like "breath-swing", according to our translator. I tried to imagine the book with "breath-swing" in place of "Hunger Angel" in each instance, but failed. Although, from a distance, the point of the book, as I understand it, makes more sense for me as "breath-swing".*****I'll have the eggs over easy, black coffee, and a moment of clarity, please.***Yes, I'm footnoting my footnotes. And not only to annoy those that are easily annoyed by annotations on the same page. This book was intended to be a collaboration by Müller and Oskar Pastior, a Romanian-born German poet who was deported to a Soviet camp, much like the protagonist of this novel. Pastior died in 2006 and Müller imagined and wrote the book on her own, although crediting Pastior for his reminiscences. I bring this up, as a public service, because Pastior was the only German member of Oulipo, a mostly French group or artists who believe in the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy. I know some Goodreaders who are having an Oulipo phase in their reading; and Müller, here, may be paying homage.

  • Stephanie Sun
    2019-03-07 02:30

    This book ends with a grown man dancing with a raisin. And then eating it.The fact that I, someone whose life has been as far from Gulag survivor as they come, can, after reading this book, not see that image as weird and inconsequential, but layered with all of the pathos, dignity, gruesomeness, rightness, irony, and beauty that the author intended, says much about not only Muller's gifts as a writer and Philip Boehm's gifts as a translator, but also about what this medium of fiction is and can do.After a month where the honor of "weirdest book I read that probably changed my life" is kind of a toss-up between Invisible Cities, The Mezzanine, and this book, What can't fiction do? seems like a more appropriate question.It's easy to be cynical about serious literature and serious writers. But when you want to describe and expose the pretensions of pretentious literary types, where do you go? To The Emperor's New Clothes, right? To a piece of literature.The Hunger Angel is no less than an Emperor's New Clothes for the experience of being imprisoned and enslaved by a corrupt and expedient power. It creates a common language among all who have read it about certain kinds of human desperation, craftiness, beastliness, memory, reserves of will, and dreaming. In "hunger angel" (Boehm notes at the end that Muller's word, Atemschaukel, translates literally from German as "breath swing," but I am quite fond of his interpretation) Muller names for the first time the amoral collection of desires and drives created by a starving person's hunger. Although given top billing, it is one of many new names given to previously elusive phenomena here.Indeed, many chapters read like psycho versions of entries in the Boy Scouts Handbook. Instead of BSAH staples like "STAY DOWNWIND: To see mammals like deer in the wild, be quiet and stay downwind of their likely position..." Muller's narrator gives "advice" on things like how to pace one's bread rations and how to apply a theory of special relativity to the distorted realities of life in a work camp:"For instance, the hunger angel must have a Minkowski-wire of his own, only it's not clear from the book if the hunger angel's wire always stays attached to us, which is why he never really goes away when he says he's coming back."Words don't really go away in this book. They come back from temporary exile, like Leo, changed. They dance. And sometimes get eaten.In this book, they are never thrown away.

  • Kristin E.
    2019-03-14 05:13

    Sometimes things acquire a tenderness, a monstrous tenderness we don’t expect from them.Every short chapter of this is like poetry; it forces you to dwell on the words and glide through its haunting imagery. The depiction of life in the Soviet forced labour concentration camp under Stalin’s regime is based on the true experiences and recollections of Romanian-born German poet Oskar Pastior who died in 2006. It is immensely insightful; there is not exactly a lot of hope or humour to be found but a sharp-cutting perceptiveness. The atmosphere is icy-cold as the air of January in which it begins; the fear of an uncertain future is mixed with a particular almost guilty sense of anticipation.The place is Romania, the year is 1945; the war is ending. Leopold Auberg is seventeen when he, among a group of other German-Romanians, is shipped off to Russia in the dead of winter to pay for Hitler’s crimes and to inevitably worship at the shine of the hunger angel for the next five long years of his life. Prior to being deported Leo is secretly not all-together unhappy about going away. He knows the feeling of uncertainty and fear well enough; they are under his skin and he knows how to tend to them as well as at all possible. His fear is of a double disgrace; that the state will lock him away as a criminal for meeting with other boys and men in parks and bath houses in a time when that act is illegal; and that his family will disown him out of shame. In his mind the concentration camp becomes almost a place of escape rather than a prison; a place that doesn’t know who he is. But the place in its very essence is dark and merciless; pervaded by a feeling of sickness from longing for a home that starts to lose its meaning as time passes and, more than anything, by hunger. The hunger becomes all-consuming to the point of defining every act, every thought. It becomes a significant part of the very being:What can be said about chronic hunger. Perhaps that there’s a hunger that can make you sick with hunger. That it comes in addition to the hunger you already feel. That there is a hunger which is always new, which grows insatiably, which pounces on the never-ending old hunger that already took such effort to tame. How can you face the world if all you can say about yourself is that you’re hungry.The different descriptions of hunger are startling and eloquent. As seasons melt together, the only point of orientation in terms of the passing of time is the fixed, circular evolvement of the orach; a plant that provides the residents of the camp with modest and tasteless but pivotal nourishment as long as the season allows it. Then it starts to grow jewelled flowers in poisonously colours that stabs the eyes before it finally freezes to death. By then it no longer serves the hungry; rather it becomes a servant adorning the hunger angel. The hunger angel is always there like a guardian except it’s not guarding you but your hunger. It’s company, nonetheless and it can’t not be there; its presence is accepted or at least endured. Leo and his fellow labourers become shells of someone they used to be; someone the place refuses to let them remain as. Like the skeletons of wild oats shimmering like fish bones as they sway (a literal example of the haunting imagery), they become empty, sexless. They lose every perception of gender. All is taken from them, but the only thing valued is their labour. Meanwhile the hunger angel become increasingly powerful as it feasts on their hunger and tempts with alluring, peaceful and orange images of death. But there is also an unspoken and necessary stubbornness to accept. To not let death or the sadness that follows dwell or settle too long, to not wither into nothingness and be swept away. When the wind is strong, the soul is carried off in waves. Everything that happens is always simple. And there’s a principle to how things proceed, assuming that they last.

  • ·Karen·
    2019-03-15 23:12

    The powerful futility of wordsWords have a disconcerting power over Leo Auberg: the mere word AQUARELL (water colour) can make him stagger, as if kicked. That word seems to know how far he has already gone in his illicit bathhouse encounters. And yet, even more disconcertingly, a word like LAGER (camp), despite wartime, despite the penal camp near the canal from which those men arrested in the park or the bathhouse, brutally interrogated and incarcerated, from which they never return, or if they do then only as the walking dead, for that word LAGER, still, he is deaf. He is seventeen, he wants to get away from his family, and even the Russian police patrol, going round with a list, taking all those German speaking adults between the age of 17 and 45, even that seems to him almost like rite of passage, initiation into the adult world.His grandmother's parting words to him are ICH WEISS DU KOMMST WIEDER.I know you will come back. He didn't think much about those words. He didn't know they would follow him, work in him, become a confederate of his shovel, an adversary of the hunger angel. Those words would keep him alive.Those words can transform into a handkerchief, the only person that took care of him in camp. Sometimes objects gain a tenderness, a monstrous tenderness. Rain like knives of ice from October onwards: snow, sleet, howling gales: summer is a chance to warm the gnawing hunger. Gnawing lice, lice in the eyebrows, in the armpits, in the genital hair. Bed-bugs. Death. Death by crushing, by drowning, by being buried under cement, by the toxic effects of illicit schnaps. By slow starvation, because your own husband is taking your food. The fearful mathematics of death: 330 in March of the fourth year. The fearful mathematics of starvation: 1 lift of the shovel=1 gramme of bread. Leo returns home to Hermannstadt in Siebenbürgen after five years in the labour camp, but he never leaves it behind him. The words on his treasures will never be DA WAR ICH, in the past. Nor will they be DA BIN ICH, in the present. On his treasures will stand the words DA KOMM ICH NICHT WEG. The gulag fills his head, colonises his thinking, from right to left, from day to night. It is with him always, there is no escape.Man kann sich nicht schützen, weder durchs Schweigen noch durchs Erzählen.There is no defence. Silence will not help, but neither will speaking. That fear of letting go, that fear of freedom, that fear of being close to another, no words can ever overcome that. No words ever will.

  • Hadrian
    2019-03-04 07:33

    Exile, hunger. The hunger angel is not a kind and gentle cherub, but like a Gnostic messenger of God's will, or the angel of death. Its constant presence gnaws away at those within the camp.This reminds me of both Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Victor Frankl, but with a unique description, almost tender in its starkness. Double dispossession - being a German in Romania, and a German in the Soviet Union. Little details of work camp life which stand out.

  • Isabelle
    2019-03-08 05:15

    This book has sneaked its way into my life in a very impertinent manner; for three years or so I had the cover gaping at me in various bookstores, and while I must have been dimly aware that Herta Müller had recently won the Nobel Prize (which is possibly also the reason I picked Atemschaukel up in the first place), I’d avoided it for quite a long time due to its ubiquity and because the cover photograph anticipates only too well the book’s subject matter. (I have the same problem with films; for almost a year I’ve been walking past a DVD edition of Törless because the leading actor looks so decidedly stupid on the cover that it made me angry each time I saw it; it’s an excellent film, by the way). Here, the man on the dust jacket looks exactly like one of those ruined people that are the product of concentration camps (I was not too far off, it mainly takes place in one of Stalin’s forced labour camps), and unless I really have to, I prefer keeping away from these kind of themes since most books’ treatment of them is usually pointless, hence the hesitation.Basically Atemschaukel has two major problems:i) The subtitle ‘Roman’ (novel) is very misleading, since this is better described as a collection of loosely connected anecdotes; there is no climax and hardly any storyline at all.ii) (my problem, really) For me, history is history and fiction is fiction, and I detest it when the latter assumes a documentary style. Obviously, Müller’s book is based on the recollections of mainly one individual, it's autobiography in a fake fiction coat. I am simply not interested in reading about detainees eating ants and dog shit in order to survive just for the sake of the description, neither do I like the people-have-to know-about-these-things vibe the book ultimately gives off.In this sense, Atemschaukel ('breath-swing', by the way) is limited by its materials. Müller actually writes well, her language is poetic and yet subtle; especially the first third contains fantastic writing (she uses so many words I haven’t read for years in print). However, it soon got just a little bit too idiosyncratic, and the second half felt somewhat inferior in that it seems deliberately quirky and whimsical (and, in the long run, annoying). I thought about giving another Müller work a try, but as communist dictatorship in Romania seems to be her major theme I’m a bit ashamed to say that our ways possibly have to part here.

  • Greg Brozeit
    2019-03-15 23:08

    One of my earliest, strongest childhood memories is when my family picked up my uncle, who had been a political prisoner in East Germany, from the hospital where he had been placed after his release, like many others in his position, after his freedom had been bought by the West German government. Although I never personally experienced such treatment, I was inculcated at an early age with a deep, repellant understanding of the fact that there were people like my uncle who had been wrongly incarcerated because of their political beliefs, ethnicity, geographic location, or for just being in the wrong historical place at the wrong historical time. So I was aware of what was happening in countless places behind the Iron Curtain. And during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution in China. And in Cambodia under Pol Pot. And in Uganda, the Congo, Rhodesia, South Africa. And in Chile and Argentina and Central America as people disappeared. And American prisons like Parchman and Angola, for that matter. These were just facts of life in the decades after World War II. Actually, throughout history. But as I read Atemschaukel, it struck me that many young people today have no memory or understanding of these episodes in history and how different they were from the great socio-political fear of their age: terrorism.For me, Herta Müller’s book is as much a cultural historical statement as it is a work of literature. This being the third book of hers that I’ve read, I'm warming up to her sparing prose, episodic chapters that almost become short stories in their own right, and inferences about the past and future. The nebulous opening of a young Romanian ethnic German, who has been designated to be a prisoner at a Russian labor camp as a form of collective, representational penance is chillingly cruel. His grandmother’s farewell, „ICH WEISS DU KOMMST WIEDER“ (“I know you will come back”) sets off into an ordeal that will take years, and even when it is over, it never loosens its grip on his subsequent life. The daily torments, tragedies, frustrations, interactions with the other characters, and the ever-present Hungerengel (Hunger Angel) are punctuated and revealed through Müller’s writing.The title Atemschaukel is more difficult to translate than most German words (especially since the word doesn’t even exist in German). The translators changed it to Hunger Angel, which is a decision I completely understand and accept given the repeated references to it in the novel. But rather than the use the literal translation of “breath swing,” I think the sentiment behind Atemschaukel is closer to “on the edge.” In this case it is the central character being on the edge of so many things—his existence, his identity, his interactions with others, his ability to deal with every contemporary moment of his life. Müller’s story is about more than an account of a Russian labor camp prisoner. Atemschaukel is a microcosm of what millions of people experienced in the latter half of the 20th century—and what countless anonymous persons still do. It is a link joining that era to today's fear of terrorism and the atrocities it can breed.

  • Nathan
    2019-03-26 05:07

    In 1945 the Soviet general Vinogradov presented a demand in Stalin's name that all Germans living in Romania be mobilized for "rebuilding" the war-damaged Soviet Union. All men and women between seventeen and forty-five years of age were deported to forced-labor camps in the Soviet Union. My mother, too, spent five years in a labor camp. The deportations were a taboo subject because they recalled Romania's Facist past. Those who had been in the camp never spoke of their experiences except at home of with close acquaintances who had also been deported, and then only indirectly. My childhood was accompanied by such stealthy conversations; at the time I didn't understand the content, but I did sense the fear.- Herta Müller, on why she wrote The Hunger Angel This is one of the most original, daring and innovative books I've read in quite some time. Focusing on 17 year old Leo Auberg, The Hunger Angel recounts five years in a gulag. While stories like Leo's are left out of the public consciousness, what makes this novel so powerful has little to do with its plot. Müller's style is the literaty equivalent of an expressionist painting. Using poetic prose as her brush, she drags the reader through inhuman conditions to examine the guilt of a nation so prejudiced to its weakest group. Müller has her eye on the world in this novel. Leo feels hated not only because he is German, but because he is gay. As Müller wrote this, Russia began passing its laws against "gay propaganda". Couples have began to face legal and social hurdles for existing openly. Looking to the past to inform the future, Müller gives an empassioned account on government accepted oppression. In fact, the portions dedicated to Leo's sexuality are some of the most compelling moments she offers. His self loathing does not make him any more heterosexual. It is only when he learns with who he is that he can be a more empathetic and caring person. As other prisoners hate some women for having trysts, Leo realizes his shared humanity with them as well. He notes: "No one could have guessed that I understood them all too well, that I knew about arousal in disheveled clothes, about roving desire and gasping delight in Alder Park and the Neptune Barhs. No one could imagine that I was reliving my own rendezvous, more and more often"It's empathy that ties this whole book together. To the downtrodden, afraid, and even the malicious, Müller gives nothing less than a shared humanity. Her Nobel often gets dismissed for her being "just another political writer" (I'll admit that I said something similar before I read The Hunger Angel), but she can write with a level power and tenderness that is hard to find. What else even matters?

  • Marc
    2019-03-04 02:12

    In each of her books Herta Müller succeeds in creating a very ingenious world, with its own language and idiom that illustrates the traumatic effect of what her main characters have to undergo. Also in this case, the experiences of a 17 year old Romanian German, which at the beginning of 1945 is arrested by the Soviets and transported to a camp, deep in Russia (or Ukraine), to do forced labour. The boy describes his experiences in short chapters, and they are absolutely shocking. But it aren’t plain observations, Müller describes them with a huge sense of the psychological complexity of people who are driven to the margin of what’s liveable. In this her work does not differ very much of what Primo Levi did Survival in Auschwitz: wondering what a human is, in the middle of the most extreme inhumane. But Müller adds a linguistic layer to it: her character brings his trauma in a poetic-fantastic-horribly distorted language as with the handsome description of the "Hunger angel" who constantly pops up, or the "breath-swinging" movement in shoveling cement or coal; this magical-realistic language is clearly a means to survive. All this is handsome, clever and gripping, surely if you reread it a number of times. But again I have to confess (this is already the 3rd book of Müller I read) that it really didn’t captivate me, I don't really like it, it's just too strange. Maybe I don’t have the stomach for it?!

  • Mike
    2019-03-18 00:27

    Won this in a goodreads giveway.I write too much for other reasons to ever give reviews any effort, so:Like watching a silk string coil and uncoil in the dirt.Like the slow waves of grass.Leo is nothing but his voice, his observation, his desires, his exhaustion and hunger, his memories. As the years drain by he becomes more and more indistinguishable from what he describes, but never completely, instead more like the shadow of a cloud passing by, and then later the land beneath the shadow.Like the best poetry captures instances (in this case, hunger, boredom, isolation, loneliness, futility, identity, separation to name a few) in an economy of words.Highly, highly recommended.

  • Galina
    2019-03-08 03:11

    Уххх... удря право в сърцето, в онези кътчета на страховете, на самотата, на безразличието, на преглътнатите сълзи, на осъзнаването, че не принадлежиш към място, дом и род.Херта Мюлер изгражда свят, който много прилича на фотографска лента. Съобщителните изречения и привидната липса на дълбоки чувства, правят описанието безкрайно трогващо. "Преди" и "след" са категории, които плавно се наслагват в повествованието не, за да задават въпроси, а точно обратното - за да внушат липсата на отговори. Човекът попада там, където не му е мястото, а след време се оказва, че никъде няма място за него.Един тих, бавен роман, в който думите живеят собствен живот. Те са патерицата, на която действието се подпира, но сюжетът надхвърля рамките на вербалното. За да ни запрати в една равнина, построена изцяло върху неизменната безсмисленост. Онази, от която не боли. И именно в това е трагедията.

  • Wayne
    2019-03-05 01:27

    Beautiful, poetic writing. Muller's style and subject (WWII Romania and Russian deportation camps)are pretty unfamiliar territory to me, but themes are similar to those I've found in other stories about the soul-stealing power of dislocation and internment.The personification of HUNGER reminded me of Elie Wiesel and Knute Hamson's writing. Strangely, I am also reading 'The Book Thief' which is narrated by DEATH, a character pivotal to that story and so many others, even if unintentional.Muller's writing is amazing, lush, and colorful. Though the themes are heavy and the story can feel oppressive, her imagery paints pictures I won't soon forget. I look forward to reading more of her work.

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-03-01 02:16

    When Herta Müller received a much-deserved Nobel Prize in 2009, she was lauded for her portrayal of "the landscape of the dispossessed." These words are a very fitting description of "The Hunger Angel," a tribute to her fellow German-Romanians, who were deported to Siberian prison camps after the war for their supposed or real collaboration with Hitler's Germany. Müller's mother spent five years in such a camp, but the protagonist here is a young man, whose story is apparently based upon a detainee Müller interviewed over several years (see her "Afterword"). Müller's economical, poetic language is very much on display in "The Hunger Angel," in which she so brilliantly conveys the landscape and the physical things that define the prisoners' world--for example, the sacks of cement carefully carried day after day, the cinder blocks used for housing, the white lice that clusters along a strand of wool to escape when a garment is exposed to sulfurous smoke, etc. So many of these descriptions, as well as her description of an unforgettable group of people, are written in her characteristically simple, haunting, and strangely poetic prose . Overarching the landscape and the characters is the theme of hunger: "Until you no longer have a brain inside your head, only the hunger echo . . . when your flesh on your body disappears, your bones become a burden, and the ground pulls you downward." In the midst of this terrible "landscape of the dispossessed," there are still moments of surprise: "Sometimes things acquire a tenderness, a monstrous tenderness we don't expect from them." Müller is one of our most important contemporary writers. She deserves her prize and a larger audience.

  • H Wesselius
    2019-02-25 06:11

    I rarely read fiction but this one sparked my interest given its subject material. However, it was almost impossible to read with any interest or desire. With only short stories or pictures, there was very little character development to have the reader feel any sympathy or understanding for the difficulty life in a soviet labour camp. Furthermore there wasn't any continuity in the story which made it difficult for the reader to gain an appreciation for life in a labour camp. Thus, as a vehicle to describe human suffering and to inform the reader of a historical wrong, it failed on both accounts. And if the story was written for any other reason, I failed to see it.

  • Steve
    2019-03-16 06:18

    The quiet poetry of hunger, powerlessness and death, written in perhaps 80 short episodes, often like prose poems, with only occasional changes of tone towards the ironic or mildly humorous. To be read slowly, and not in one sitting...

  • Bogdan Raț
    2019-03-19 03:19

    Amazing. Breathtaking.„Când n-aveam nimic de gătit, lăsam fumul să-mi șerpuiască prin gură. Îmi trăgeam limba-ndărăt și mestecam în gol. Mâncam salivă cu fum de seară și mă gândeam la cârnați fripți. Când n-aveam nimic de gătit treceam prin apropierea oalelor prefăcându-mă că înainte de culcare vreau să mă spăl pe dinți la fântână. Dar înainte de a-mi vârî periuța de dinți în gură, mâncam de două ori. Cu foamea ochilor mâncam focul galben, iar cu foamea din cerul gurii, fumul.”„Rațiile gata cântărite și acoperite cu cearșafuri albe erau așezate pe polițe. [...] Muștele erau nevoite să se așeze pe cearșafuri în loc de pâine. La pâine n-ajungeau decât atunci când o țineam în mână. Iar dacă nu-și luau zborul suficient de rapid de pe ea, mâncam laolaltă cu pâinea noastră și foamea lor.”„Îmi umplea lingura numai pe jumătate și sorbeam prelung. Mă învățasem să mănânc încet, și după fiecare lingură de supă să-mi înghit saliva. Îngerul foamei mă povățuia: saliva lungește supa și culcatul devreme scurtează foamea.”„Apoi, m-am tocmit la sânge și-am primit pe cincizeci de pagini de Zarathustra - de răsucit țigări - o litră de sare, iar pe șaptezeci chiar o litră de zahăr. Pentru întregul Faust legat în pânză, Peter Schiel mi-a fabricat penru uz personal un pieptene de păduchi din tablă. Antologia de poezie de opt secole am devorat-o sub formă de mălai și untură de porc, cât despre volumașul Weinheber, pe ăla l-am transformat în mei.”„Dimineața nu-i timp pentru asta, și nici n-ai ce schimba. Pâinea proaspăt tăiată arată toată la fel. Până seara însă, fiecare felie se usucă diferit, dreaptă și colțuroasă sau strâmb-burtoasă. Optica uscării îți dă sentimentul că pâinea ta te-nșală. Acest sentiment îl au toți, chiar dacă nu-și schimbă între ei pâinea. Iar când o schimbi, sentimentul se-ntețește. Schimbi o iluzie optică pe-o alta.”„Cred că atunci când ți-e foame, orbirea și vederea sunt același lucru, foamea oarbă vede cel mai bine mâncarea. Există cuvinte de foame mute și altele zgomotose, la fel cum în foame există o parte secretă și-o alta publică. Cuvintele de foame, deci cuvintele de mâncare domină discuțiile, și cu toate astea tot singur rămâi. Fiecare-și mănâncă singur cuvintele. Ceilalți care mănâncă o fac tot pentru ei înșiși. Participarea afectivă la foamea celorlalți e zero, nu poți flămânzi împreună cu alții.”„Abia acum mi-a atras atenția că popândăii m-au simțit că merg prin stepă singur, nu sub pază. Popândăii au instinctul ager, se roagă pentru fuga din lagăr - așa mi-am zis. Fuga ar fi acum posibilă, dar încotro? Poate că vor să mă avertizeze, crezându-mă de mult fugit. [...] Cerul, întins peste stepă ca o plasă albastră, se lipea în zare de pământ fără portiță de scăpare.”„Și pe terasamentul căii ferate - când se-ntâmplă ca vreunul să rămână lat - există și plictiseala zăpezii în care zace cadavrul și lopata sa. De cum l-ai îndepărtat de-acolo, ai și uitat de el, fiindcă în zăpada groasă conturul cadavrelor slăbănoage nici nu se vede. Ci numai plictiseala lopeții părăsite. Nu-i bine să stai în preajma lopeții părăsite. Nu-i bine să stai în preajma lopeții. Când vântul bate ușor, sufletul își ia zborul împodobit cu pene. Când bate puternic, sufletu-i purtat valuri-valuri. Și nu numai el - odată cu fiecare cadavru pesemne se eliberează și câte-un Înger al foamei care-și caută o nouă gazdă. Dar nici unul dintre noi nu-i în stare să hrănească doi Îngeri ai foamei.”„Că Bea Zakel a tras moarta de cap peste marginea mesei, până ce părul i-a atârnat în jos. Că moarta Corina Marcu, ca prin minune, nu fusese încă niciodată rasă-n cap și că felcerița a tuns-o acum zero să-i ia părul. Că Bea Zakel a pus grijuliu părul într-o lădiță de lemn. Că Trudi a vrut să știe la ce-i rebuie părul, și că felcerița i-a spus: Suluri pentru ferestre. Că Trudi a-ntrebat: Pentru cine, și că Bea Zakel a zis: Pentru croitorie, domnul Reusch ne coase suluri pentru ferestre, părul în geam oprește curentul.”„Părinții mei și-au făcut un copil, fiindcă pe mine nu mai puteau conta. Așa cum mama prescurtează „născut” cu un n., tot așa ar prescurta și „mort” cu un m. A făcut-o de-acum. Oare mamei nu-i e rușine cu tighelul ei grijuliu de ață albă, când printre rânduri sunt nevoit să citesc:Din partea mea n-ai decât să mori unde ești, am economi spațiu acasă.”„Goi cum eram, niște creaturi chelboase, răsucite, arătam ca niște vite de povară reformate. Nici unul din nou nu se rușina. De ce să te mai rușinezi când ai rămas fără corp? Și totuși din cauza lui ne-aflam aici, ca să depunem muncă fizică. Cu cât corpul ți se împuțina, cu-atât te pedepsea el mai strașnic. Învelișul ăasta le-aparținea rușilor.”„Comorile micuțe sunt cele pe care scrie: sunt aici.Comorile mai mari sunt cele pe care scrie: ți-amintești...Dar cele mai frumoase comori sunt cele pe care va scrie: am fost aici.”„Am cheltuit mult la propoziția asta. Apoi am scris-o pe-o pagină goală. În ziua următoare am tăiat-o. În răsurmătoarea am scris-o din nou. Și din nou am tăiat-o, și din nou am scris-o. Când pagina s-a umplut, am smuls-o. Asta înseamnă să-ți amintești.”

  • Fuad Takrouri
    2019-03-03 01:32

    أرجوحة النفسهيرتا موللر((أغراض تبحث عني بالرغم من إمكانية ألا تربطني بها أية علاقة. أغراض تريد ترحيلي ليلاً وأخذي ثانية إلى المعسكر، هي تريد ذلك فعلاً، لأنها تأتي على شكل قطعان ولا تبقى فقط في الرأس. إنني أشعر بضغط في المعدة. ضغط يصعد إلى الحلق. أرجوحة النفس تراكب فوق بضعها البعض.....))حين تكون الرؤية مؤلمة للحد الذي لا يحتملوتكون الطريق ذاكرة ألم.ربما هو حزن، ولكن برؤية فلسفة هيرتا، وبإبداع أيضاً تضيف العناصر بعضها لبعض لتحاور ألم الاعتقال.كما تنقلنا بمنتهى المهارة إلى تلك السنوات الخمس، سنوات معسكر العمل، والتي كانت عمراً. حزم حقائب السفر..هنا كانت البداية ،وساعات السفر في عربات نقل الحيوانات..((في الغابة تزهر وُريدة الحجروفي الحفر ما زال الثلج يقبعهذه التي كتبتها ليرسالتك الصغيرة توجعني دائماً نفس الأغنية، لدرجة أن المرء لم يعد يعرف، إذا كنّ فعلاُ يغنين أم لا،فقد صار الهواء يغني. والأغنية تترجرج في رأس واحدهم ثم تكيّف نفسها متناغمة مع السفر – إنها مقطوعة بلوز خاصة بعربات نقل الحيوانات،إنها أغنية الكيلومتر الخاصة بالزمن المرتمي في عجلة الحركة. لقد أصبحت أطول أغنية سمعتها في حياتي، بقيت النسوة يغنينها خمس سنوات طوال، ليجعلن منها نحن، أغنية مريضة بالحنين للوطن.)) الملوخية ...الجوع بكل حالاته ،وكيف يمكن أن يكون، وأي نوع من الجوع تتحدث عنه هيرتا ؟؟(( ماذا يمكن للمرء أن يقول حول الجوع المزمن .أيقول هناك جوع يجعلُك مريضاً من شدّته ،وينزِلُ عند جوعك المزمن أكثر جوعاً .هذا الجوع القادم دائماً،ينمو ولا أمكانية لإشباعه،ثم يثب نازلاً على جوعك الأزلي في قِدمه، جوعك الذي طالما بلا كللٍ في تدجينه.))الإسمنت.حين ترى كل شيء ضدك ،وتنمو حولك الشكوك ،وتصير المؤامرة أكبر...(( إن الإسمنت وملاك الجوع رفيقان. فالجوع يفتح المسامات ويدخلها، وعندما يتمكن داخلها، يأتي الإسمنت ويغلقها ليصبح الأنسان مسمنتاً))منديل الجيب والفئران. نقرأ أيضا سلاسة الفكرة في التحول، حيث تتبدل الصورة، وتتخذ الأشياء ما نريد لها من رمز. ((لقد كنت على يقين، أن الجملة التي ودعتني بها جدتي: أنا أعرف أنك ستعود، قد انقلبت إلى منديل جيب. أنا لا استحي حين أقول: أن ذلك المنديل هو الأنسان الوحيد الذي اعتنى بي في المعسكر. أنا متأكد من ذلك وحتى يومي هذا.تحصل الأشياء أحياناً بنعومة، كأنّها تشوّه لا ينتظره أحدٌ.)) من الخبز الشخصي إلى خبز الوجه.تتعلم في ذلك العالم القاسي ألا تفكر سوى كيف تنجو بنفسك ،وحتى أنك كي تنجح في ذلك عليك أن تهزم إنسانيتك...(( لقد تعلمنا من المعسكر أن نخلي الموتى دون أن نقشعر أمامهم. نسحبهم من المكان قبل تيبَّس الجثة، فنحن بحاجةٍ إلى ثيابهم كي لا نتجمد من البرد. كما أننا نأكل ما وفروه من خبز تحت مخدات أسرِّتهم. بعد طلوع النفس الأخير يصبح الموت غنيمة)).عن الكنوز.وهنا نقرأ في الفصل الأخير. كيف تترك السنوات بصمتها في الروح والجسد. (( الكنوز الصغيرة هي ما كتب عليها ((أنا هنا)) والكنوز الكبيرة هي التي كتب عليها ((هل ما زلت تعرف)) وأجمل الكنوز هي التي كتب عليها ((لقد كنت هنا )).

  • Andrea Paterson
    2019-03-22 05:16

    Around the World: RomaniaI really wanted to like this. It had some impressive moments, some images that caused my stomach to lurch in surprise and I have to give Muller credit for the unique style of this novel. But I just didn't like it. Frankly, I was bored. I couldn't connect to the protagonist, and the level of detail provided about every speck of dust and every scrap of food became wearing and frustrating. There isn't really a moving plot here--just poetic descriptions, images, and microscopic examinations of the minutiae of life in a forced labour camp. I eventually started skipping over huge sections, sometimes entire chapters just to get to the end. I realize that the structure and focus of the book was purposeful. I can appreciate Muller's project--an attempt to capture the bizarre contrast between the mundane and the horrific in the labour camp setting. Starvation takes away humanity, leaving empty husks of people in its wake, so its no surprise that there is no energy in the text, nothing moving. But I could only deal with so many descriptions of lice and potato peels. It was all too depressing. There were very few moments of joy, nothing to give the reader hope, nothing to temper the despair. So, unfortunately, I didn't like this book, and only pressed on because it won the Nobel Prize, otherwise I would have stopped after the first few chapters. I want to stress that I don't think this was bad writing. It may even have been a deeply important book, but I personally wasn't provoked by it.

  • Lada Moskalets
    2019-03-18 06:23

    роман, який змінює звичні знані нам категорії і в ролі в'язня трудового табору на Донбасі опиняються німці. починаєш розуміти, що справа не в ідеї чи нації, а в структурі, яка змінює і перетворює людей на жертв і катів, а потім не дає вирватися назад у нормальне життя і звільнення з табору не означає свободи - бо рутини табору на кшталт танців у дерев'яних черевиках стали твоїм життям. попри описи табору, голоду і важкої праці, книжка не безнадійно песимістична, вона радше про те, як не дозволити жахливому досвіду поглинути тебе цілком

  • أحمد شاكر
    2019-03-16 03:26

    أرى أنه من العبث أن يبدي أي إنسان اعجابه بكتاب يتناول معاناة إنسان أو أي كائن حي. الحكاية مؤلمة بقدر ألم ..البشرية كلها. الجوع والبرد والقمل والموت؛ العبودية

  • Mikimbizii
    2019-03-10 07:07

    “And we had our mouths, which had grown so high and hollow that our steps echoed inside. A bright void in the skull, as if we’d swallowed too much glaring light. A light that sweetly creeps up your throat and swells and rises to your brain. Until you no longer have a brain inside your head, only the hunger echo. No word was adequate for the suffering caused by hunger. To this day, I have to show hunger that I have escaped his grasp. Ever since I stopped having to go hungry, I literally eat life itself. And when I eat, I am locked up inside the taste of eating”The Hunger Angel is so quintessentially Mulleresque - a dangerously addictive, narcotic, elegiac style of writing. One cannot skim through The Hunger Angel - you need to plunge into it, explore the agonizing, lyrical depths, and drown in it and then surface – redeemed. The protagonist Leo - is the finest essence, a distilled arboreal echo of human spirit. He is the narrator and through his often bewildered and sometimes stoic eyes, we see the lives around him crumbling, fading away. One is not repulsed, nor shocked. Through Leo, Muller manages to make the reader enter the labor camp not as an observer but as a fellow sufferer. By travelling through Leo’s thoughts you feel a hushed mellowness growing over you. Words, mere words work such wonders! “When I have nothing to cook, the smoke snakes in through my mouth. I draw in my tongue and chewed on nothing”The Hunger Angel is an intensely personal, painful exploration of hunger and what it does to people. It is the depiction of a group of people who are stripped of their dignity, personality and rights within a forced labor-camp. It is not really about what has been taken away from these people but what they replaced it with – the feeling of hunger becomes a monstrous, looming, almost physical entity that teases and tortures them. The only relief is the temporary oblivion that sleep provides. Every possession of theirs becomes infinitely precious used to barter for food or a bit of warm clothing. They are reduced to their most precarious, dehumanized states. How terrible what hate and war can do to people! How many millions destroyed and among those, how many minds and souls as palpably beautiful as Leo’s might have been ruined! I’d read The Land Of Green Plums and The Passport 2-3 years ago. The English translation of ‘Atemschaukel’ (the German title) was then not available. I remember that the working title for the translation was ‘Everything I Possess, I Carry With Me’. On December 2013, a chance comment by a friend of mine made me look up Muller again and there it was, the English translation of ‘Atemschaukel’ – titled aptly (oh so aptly!) The Hunger Angel. I bought it immediately. It is the first book I read in 2014.

  • И~N
    2019-03-12 03:04

    “Всичко свое нося със себе си”, “Ангелът на глада”, “Люлката на дишането”, “Люлката на гласа”- все различни преводачески решения за заглавието на книгата, ни показват различните приближавания и различните преживявания на света, в който Х. Мюлер ни въвежда. Някак рязко, леко недиректно, с усеащане повече, отколкото с исторически факти, често интуитивно. Не съвсем такова е самото протичане на книгата. Съществуването на героите и на останалите мимоходом споменати или въвлечени хора често се свежда до материалните измерения на бита им. Това пренасищане с конкретното битуване може да е леко задушаваща. Omnia mea mecum porto (всичко свое нося със себе си) - буквално, понеже материалният живот им е отнет и заместен с камерната ограниченост на лагерното пространство; преносно, защото вътрешните притежания, мълчаливите натрупани и некомуникируеми багажи остават с тях дори след края на травматичната действителност. Ангелът на глада е косвеният герой, метафизичният хинтергрунд, който подлага тона на книгата. Той е вездесъщата текстурана повествованието. Той е множествеността, обхващаща героите- всеки по различен начин - читателят, авторът, те самите са посотянно в недоумение дали е само един или всеки от лагерниците си има свой собствен. Дори в постлагерното пространство, вникването в което намирам за великолепно, той е още повече наличен, вече в реформирана ипостаза - в обществената среда, преситена с домашен уют, по думите на Херта Мюлер, ангелът на глада сякаш се обръща с вътрешността си навън, като двулика дреха, за да се присъства вече като Всеобщата Апатия.Книгата на Херта Мюлер е литературно преживяване от висок порядък. Някак си успява да съчетае характеристиките, за които си мисля, когато видя знака за Нобел - историческа значимост на описаните явления, плътност на представяната среда, изпънат до нажежаващо скъсване език и достатъчно обиграно вникване в отвъдфизическото.

  • Ala AbuTaki
    2019-03-01 01:20

    إسرافٌ في الوصف والتفاصيل الصغيرة , في الثلج الذي يشبه ندف القطن , أو نثار السكر المطحون فوق قطعة حلوى , أو ... الكثير من التفاصيل ولاشيء يحدث تحديداً . ثمة الكثير من التأملات , في الجوع والحنين والجوع مرةً أخرى . وثمة الكثير من الإطالة والملل في بعض المقاطع .. ولا أدري أهوَ سرُّ الكاتبة أم أزمة المُترجم !أفضل الفصول وأقلها إملالاً وأجملها بالنسبةٍ لي هو ما جاء في ال30 صفحة الأخيرة , ولا أعرف أكان ذلك لأنني احتجت لوقتٍ استعيد فيه حماسي للكتاب بعد أن تركته كل هذا الوقت أو أن هذه الفصول هي الألذ حقيقةً .ربّما قد أجرب القراءة لنفس الكاتبة مرة أخرى , لكن ليس في قراءة بهذا الحجم , وربّما قد تكون أخفّ على القلب بترجمةٍ أخرى .. رغم أن هذه الترجمة ليست سيئة أبداً .

  • Janet
    2019-02-28 03:30

    The Hunger Artist does what great art always does, it creates its own world which only tangentially intersects with our own. It is about a Romanian/German boy who is arrested and shipped to a Russian forced labor camp following World War II. This is a part of European history which is not often examined, but it is not about history, it is about the existential night of people seized out of their own lives and put into the limbo world of camp life. It feels more like Camus than Solzhenitzyn. I still favor The Land of Green Plums, but this book is about art and human existence as Beckett is. Like or don't like, stars etc. have nothing to do with it.

  • Bjorn
    2019-03-05 02:07

    "A cattle-train wagon blues, a kilometre song of time set in motion."It's an interesting choice of words Müller has her protagonist make to describe the long train ride at the end of World War II, packed in like sardines, the long cold way to the camp in the East. After all, the blues arose from a culture where the people had been deliberately robbed of their own languages and had them replaced with a rudimentary one, with the idea that they wouldn't be able to say - and by extension think - much besides "Yes sir, whatever you say" and "Praise God." The blues, on its surface, is a simple, repetitive language that always follows the same pattern, the same 12 bars to describe the trauma that makes up your life: I woke up this morning, all I had was gone, I woke up this morning, all I had was gone, any day now I shall be released.Of course, the characters of Atemschaukel (the English title will supposedly be the somewhat awkward Everything I Possess I Carry With Me) aren't slaves, at least not officially, and the camp they're off to isn't one of those camps. This is a few months later, January 1945, and the ones in the cars aren't Jews and Roma but Germans - well, sort of, it's a matter of language. As the Red Army conquered/liberated eastern Europe, one of their orders was that since the Germans were responsible for the destruction of their country, the Germans were expected to pay for its reconstruction. And hey, eastern Europe was full of ethnic Germans since the middle ages. Leo is 17, Romanian, homosexual, and German. As such, he's one of many who are given a couple of hours to pack what they need before they're shipped off to 5 years of hard labour deep in the Soviet Union. Everything I possess I carry with me. Or: Everything I own I carry on me. I carried everything that I had. It wasn't mine. It was either intended for another purpose or belonged to someone else.Atemschaukel ("breath swing" - the thing in your throat that may pass back and forth but can never be spat out or swallowed, chokes you up and keeps you alive, constantly on the threshold) is, on its surface, a harrowing Solzhenitsyan tale of everyday life in a forced labour camp; the cold, the hunger, the work, the guards, the inspections, the paranoia, the lice, the false cameraderie, the mistrust, the despair, the homesickness... and as such, it's a very strong work. But there's more to it.It's a matter of language. Everyone but the guards and the people in the surrounding villages (where are they going to run to?) still speaks German, but in this new context the words have become poisoned, they lose their old meaning, all abstract ideas eventually starve and die. Leo can't read the books he brought along; he rips them up and sells Goethe and Nietzsche as cigarette or toilet paper. The commandant is called "Comrade". Love and marriage go together like a horse and a whip, one way of getting a little more to eat. Homesickness is hollowed out bit by bit until it means being sick for the place where you had food, but you don't get food unless you work, and so eventually "home" becomes the bowl and the shovel. And once language stops being reliable, stops working, there's nothing to hold everything together. Leo is set to carry cement, but the paper sacks are too heavy and too thin, and no matter how he tries the paper rips and the cement runs out into the mud or blows away on the wind or sticks to his skin and seals him up.Without a language, without a binding element, you won't survive. You'll freeze, you'll starve, you'll have an accident and drown in concrete. So he has to create a new language to describe the new world - auf Deutsch, of course, the German language is famous for its ability to make new words simply by sticking two old ones together; grammar makes no moral judgement. Year by year, he transforms himself into someone who can survive, with a new world of ideas, and new words.Hunger angel: The closest to a god or an ideal here, always hovers over you, controls your every thought, keeps you alive, stops you living.Own bread: What's left of the bread you had for breakfast at the end of the day. Always smaller than the others'.Bread court: The spontaneous court that judges and punishes whoever eats what belongs to someone else.Heart shovel: Your dance partner, hundreds of shovels per day, until your entire biorhythm is controlled by work and hunger.The great thing about novels is their ability to create or recreate something, whether factually true or false, and make the reader see the truth in it. In Atemschaukel, Müller does exactly that, with a lot of help from poet Oskar Pastior who (like Müller's mother) was in one of the camps and is the "real" Leo. But it does more than that. It's not just about a Soviet labour camp. For all the routine in its day-to-day chores, it's a tremendously inventive, sneaky and deathly serious piece of metafiction (meta reality?) where it's a matter of language. How the world forms the way we see the world, attaches certain meanings to certain words, and how it can fundamentally change us. "I know you'll come back", Leo's grandmother tells him before he leaves, and those words become a mantra that keeps him alive. But who's the man who comes back? They didn't even know who he was when he left, he would have been tossed in jail for who he was, or ended up in a different kind of camp. The man who comes back has had his entire concept of the world changed, his words no longer mean what their words mean. But he's free now, right? Bread just means bread again, a spade is just a spade. The camp let me leave only to create the distance needed for it to take up more space in my head. Since I came home, my keepsakes don't say HERE I AM anymore, but they don't say I WAS THERE either. My keepsakes say: I'LL NEVER GET OUT OF THERE.150 years ago, slavery was abolished. 65 years ago, fascism died. 20 years ago, the Wall came down. Democracy means democracy again. Freedom means freedom again. Fascism means fascism again. Worker means worker again. Hunger just means hunger again. Why are you still using those words to mean what they meant to you for a generation or ten? Here, look at the dictionary: bread is just flour, water and yeast, that's all. Get your act together. You're free now.Blow yer harmonica, son.

  • Manny
    2019-03-10 00:04

    Müller’s The Hunger Angel I would say falls into the genre of concentration camp literature, which may come in either non-fiction or fiction. This is a work of fiction, though based on the true life of Müller’s friend Oskar Pastior. The prisoners of the concentration camp here are ethnic Germans from Romania, taken and deported to the Soviet Union after the end of the Second World War. Seventeen year old Leo Auberg is the central character, and we follow him for the five years of his internment, and then subsequent to his release in a summary rendering of his life. The concentration camp section, the core of the work, has all the elements of the genre, examples of man’s inhumanity to man, the struggle to survive, and the relationships between prisoners and between prisoners and authority. What’s special about The Hunger Angel is Müller’s prose, which rises to poetry. Her ability to contrive an image and metaphor is exceptional. The hunger angel in the title refers to how Leo envisions his pervasive hunger that looms over his life in the camp. The malevolent hunger angel defines his life and actions. We get such poetic images repeatedly.I have to say that Philip Boehm’s translation is outstanding. I can’t speak to the original German, but the poeticism comes through in English. One thing I did not understand how it fit into the novel was Leo’s infatuation with perverse sexual experiences. They began before the imprisonment—perhaps the reason for being sent to the camp—disappeared while in the camp, perhaps because the struggle to survive so dominated his life, and then returned after being released. Is there a message there about human nature? I’m not really sure. This is a bleak and disturbing novel, but wonderfully written. Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009, the same year this novel was published. If I could give half stars, I would have given this four and a half.

  • Jeva
    2019-03-01 01:22

    Three nights in a row I was haunted by the same dream. Once again I was riding home through the clouds on a white pig. But this time when I looked down, the land had a different appearance, there was no sea along its edge. And no mountains in the middle, no Carpathians. Only flat land, and not a single village. Nothing but wild oats everywhere, already autumn-yellow. Who switched my country, I asked. The hunger angel looked at me from the sky and said: America. Where did all the people go, I asked. He said nothing.-Herta Müller, The Hunger Angel. 2012.When Herta Müller won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, she was being awarded for such novels as The Land of Green Plums and The Appointment—specifically, their use of the “concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose” as to “depict the landscape of the dispossessed.” Her newest novel certainly abides by her signature qualities…and yet, it falls far short of being another addition to her list of masterpieces. Published in its original German as Atemschauke, and titled in Britain with its opening line, Everything I Possess I Carry With Me, Müller’s 2012 The Hunger Angel is the first novel she’s written since winning the Nobel Prize. However, calling Müller’s piece a “novel” is perhaps inaccurate. Rather, it is a 304-page prose poem following the fictional character of Leo Auberg and his deportation to a Soviet Union labor camp in the year of 1945. Müller had originally intended to co-write the novel with deportee and fellow Romanian poet Oskar Pastior, but when he died unexpectedly, she continued with the project on her own. The effort is now a result of meticulous interviews and the dreamlike rendering that only Müller can get away with.However, unlike the painfully beautiful Land of Green Plums, The Hunger Angel does not deliver, as one would expect from a Nobel Laureate. Perhaps the biggest hindrance is that Müller does not offer context until the afterword. The reader must gather for themselves that Leo is a Romanian ethnic German who has been deported for the rebuilding of what is presumably Stalingrad, with few clues to use to reach such a conclusion.Unfortunately for the history as well as the reader, most audiences are unaware of the German POW rebuilding of the USSR and, especially, of the deportation of Romanians for this project. Müller never allows a pause to explain this. While the prose poem can theoretically be read not just as a testament to the labor camps, but to camps of all sorts—concentration, detention, Gulag, internment— Müller is instead too specific and narrow in her illustration to allow for free exploration of this idea on the reader’s part. As a result, her dribbles of incomplete context leave the reader grasping, desperate and, ultimately, the worst thing a reader can be—frustrated. Müller muddles her themes further with the introduction of unnecessary asides. For example, Leo begins his narration with an admittance of his sexual explorations—“I let myself be passed from one man to the next”—and weaves this into a segue by iterating that if he’d been caught in the yet-unmentioned labor camp, he’d have been put to death for being a homosexual. While it’s an important thought, it’s not particularly relevant to the whole of the story. Rather, where Müller is at her strongest is in her lyricism; the prose is relentlessly striking, catching poetry in the horrendous. Translator Philip Boehm would have had his hands full moving the motion, rhythm and imagery of Müller’s flexible German into the stiffer confines of English. (A fun example: The German title, Atemschaukel, is a compound word that means something along the lines of "BreathingSwing" or "BreathSwinging,” and is used “to denote the mechanical and distanced aspects of self awareness of breathing that the prison experience engendered.“ The Hunger Angel doesn’t leave quite the same impact.) When in doubt, Boehm does like Müller does and invents the words. One or two are left in their original tongue, when needed.And yet, The Hunger Angel is a weak effort. Müller practically glorifies the situation in the camp with her elevated prose, whereas in The Land of Green Plums the stream-of-conscious prose truly emphasized the “landscape of the dispossessed.” What’s more, the obscure trials of the deported Romanian-Germans requires a history lesson before or in the story, rather than as Müller’s endnote. When her writing is poetry, it soars; however, as a comprehensive story, The Hunger Angel is never able to lift off the ground.Metropolitan Books, 304 pages. [RMS: 4.5]Visit me at for more

  • Jorge
    2019-03-12 04:27

    En el pasado la actividad literaria se encontraba limitada en muchos sentidos, ya que tanto los escritores como el público en general, en especial los lectores, estaba restringido a una clase social (alta y media-alta), una raza (blanca) y un género (masculino). Ahora debido a la evolución y a las nuevas condiciones de la sociedad, así como al momento histórico que vivimos con sus concomitantes y afortunados estímulos nos ofrece, entre otras cosas, una gran diversidad en la oferta literaria. Una de las resultantes más apreciadas de la caída de muchas barreras y prejuicios es que el talento de la mujer se ha visto eclosionado, fruto de ello son las grandes escritoras que se encuentran en la palestra de unas décadas para acá. Un indicador de lo anterior puede ser el Premio Nobel de Literatura: a partir de que este Premio se instituyó en 1901 y hasta 1990, éste se entregó en 83 ocasiones, correspondiendo tal Premio a solamente 6 mujeres lo que representa un exiguo 7%. En cambio de 1991 a la fecha se ha entregado en 26 ocasiones, habiendo sido galardonadas un total de 8 mujeres lo que representa un 31%, casi la tercera parte del total de los Premios. Si manipulamos un poco la estadística haciéndola tomar un sesgo insidioso tenemos que de los tres últimos ganadores, el 66% han sido mujeres. ¡Y lo que falta!Sin duda una de estas grandes escritoras es la Rumana-Alemana Herta Müller, ganadora del Premio Nobel en el año 2009 «quien, con la concentración de la poesía y la franqueza de la prosa, describe el paisaje de los desposeídos».El sufrimiento, el dolor, las carencias, el hambre, la humillación y las miserias humanas son el tema principal de esta novela que se desarrolla en uno de tantos campos de concentración rusos tan socorridos por los gobiernos totalitarios. El relato acerca de cómo se reduce y degrada a su mínima expresión la condición humana en aquellos infiernos terrenales es impactante. La autora logra encerrarnos literalmente en una lectura que es un fiel reflejo del campo de concentración: sórdida, poco estimulante, en un ambiente opresivo, sombría, sin emociones, con largas y monótonas descripciones de lo que sucede o de lo que no sucede en ese campo. Lo que sí ocurre son actos brutales que rebajan al ser humano y que lo hacen perder la noción de la realidad sensible. Herta Müller hace llegar todo esto hasta nosotros sin crudeza, con mesura, como si fuera algo normal, inclusive con algunos toques de poesía viviente. Si la intención de la autora fue transmitirnos todo esto, lo ha hecho muy bien. En el campo de concentración el mundo humano se encuentra subordinado a otros mundos: al mundo mineral, al mundo vegetal, a la química básica, a la fría y seca física. La vida no se mueve, se asemeja a agua sucia y estancada. Los pensamientos del protagonista se centran en escudriñar día y noche su mente, en pensar cosas sin sentido aparente, en inventar formas para olvidar el sufrimiento y el hambre. Herta Müller le presta la voz a un narrador masculino que vivió los horrores de ese campo de concentración situado en Rusia, quien por cierto fue un poeta amigo de la autora y fue él quien le proporcionó “la materia prima” para desarrollar esta obra. El tema principal de la obra de Herta Müller ha sido denunciar la destrucción del ser humano bajo la dictadura Rumana dirigida por el despiadado Nicolae Ceacescu quien ejerció el poder de 1967 a 1989. Este tema fue desarrollado ampliamente en sus anteriores trabajos, censurados durante mucho tiempo, y por los cuales le fue otorgado el Premio Nobel. En esta obra en particular también toca esos oscuros rincones de la humanidad pero ahora sitúa su obra en las crueldades y horrores que sufrió un núcleo de la población Rumana, el de los Alemanes-Rumanos perseguidos por Stalin. Hacia el final del libro sentimos que se alivia un tanto ese clima opresivo y se nos permite respirar un poco cuando el protagonista regresa a su casa (¿hogar?) e inicia un proceso arduo para lograr su retorno a un mundo sensible y al abismo de su libertad.