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The Appointment by Herta Müller
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The Appointment (1997)

by Herta Müller

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English (20)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
L'incubo continua anche se il conducator è morto e sepolto! ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
The unnamed narrator of this novel is taking a tram journey from her home to the office where she has been summoned - yet again - to be interviewed about her alleged crimes against the Romanian state. Along the way, she reflects on the other passengers in the tram, on her current and previous husbands, her family and in-laws, her neighbours, and the circumstances that led her to the point of making a small and rather futile gesture against the authority of the régime. Her observation of the small details of everyday life is almost brutally sharp in its focus, as the stream-of-consciousness builds up a composite picture of the way living under a corrupt authoritarian government distorts and coarsens everything in life, down to the most trivial level, with madness, alcohol and suicide appearing as the only viable ways out.

It's an interesting contrast with Herztier, the other of her novels that I've read: there the character was a young intellectual who was driven to write, whilst here it's a woman who strongly distrusts the written word (or anything else that leaves a record), but has nonetheless started to note down details of the physical world around her because her faith in reality is so shaken that she no longer trusts that there will be the same number of lampposts along the street from one day to the next. Magnificent, but very painful writing.

(I wonder why it is that Müller's titles so rarely survive translation to English? The plain ones become extravagant - Herztier -> The land of green plums, Atemschaukel -> The hunger angel - and the extravagant ones plain Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet -> The Appointment, Der Mensch ist ein großer Fasan auf der Welt -> The Passport) ( )
  thorold | Jul 13, 2017 |
A conversation on Twitter late one night after I had imbibed a portion or two of wine turned to laureates of the Nobel Prize for Literature (writers, not fucking folk singers), and female laureates in particular, and, well, before I knew it, I’d gone and bought a couple books by female Nobel laureates on the web site of a very large online retailer. The first was this, The Appointment by Herta Müller, a German writer who, despite her name is, er, actually Romanian. Her family belonged to the German-speaking minority in Romania, but in 1987 she was given permission to leave and settle in Germany after many years of trying. Her most successful novel to date has been 2009’s The Hunger Angel, and that same year she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Until prompted to look her up by the aforementioned Twitter conversation, I had not even heard of Müller or her fiction. But I bought The Appointment, and read it on a trip to, and from, Leeds one Saturday. The Appointment was published in Germany – she is, despite her origin, probably best considered a German writer – but the novel is set in Romania, as indeed is apparently much of her fiction. The title refers to the meeting the narrator has with Albu, a major in the Romanian secret police. The narrator used to work in a garment factory, whose products were mostly destined for export – and in a shipment of trousers destined for Italy, she hid a series of notes, asking to be rescued, through marriage, by an Italian man. But the notes were found and she was reported to management. Unfortunately, she had a bad relationship with her manager, and when a later series of notes were found, critical of the regime, she was blamed and sacked. And forced to attend interrogation sessions with Major Albu. It’s grim stuff. I’ve visited Romania – it’s a lovely country, full of lovely people – but the Ceaucescu regime was brutal and Müller pulls no punches in depicting how it impacted the lives of ordinary people. I’m in two minds whether to read more Müller – she writes in a style I like, present tense and slightly distant, and while I’m not especially keen on first-person narratives it works extremely well here; but the story is punishingly hard to read. Having said that, writing about the book for this blog post is sort of persuading me to try something else by her… ( )
  iansales | Nov 19, 2016 |
'Strange, lyrical and disturbing'
By sally tarbox on 10 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The unnamed narrator of this work is a young woman working in a clothing factory in Ceaucescu's Romania. From the first sentence we know that she has been 'summoned' for further interrogation on her 'crime' of smuggling out notes in the clothing consignments in the hope of getting an Italian husband and escaping. As she awaits the appointment and then as she makes the tram journey to the place of interrogation, we follow her thoughts and recollections. She thinks of her current partner, Paul; recalls her dead friend Lilli; looks at the world around her:
'The park was a sheer wall of blackish green, the sky clutching at the trees.'
Without Ms Muller giving us too much explicit detail about what went on, she manages to create an immensely chilling book. The constantly watching other people, wondering if they are spies... The way that false crimes could be attributed to you by anyone you upset...An entire society, many members of whom are paying lip service to a regime they don't support, through fear and hope of 'moving up the ladder' if they comply:
'First he was a fascist; later he said he'd been in the Communist underground...Anyone poor became a Communist. So did many rich people who didn't want to end up in a camp. Now my father's dead and if there's a heaven up there, you can be sure he's claiming to be a Christian.'
Absolutely rivetting book which I would say needs a second read to help you pick up on all the symbols and motifs that pepper the pages. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Set in Ceausescu's totalitarian Romania, this is essentially the story of how a soulless society saps the individual souls of the people within it. I found myself absorbed, realizing that only through fiction--the relating of one woman's musings--can the deepest dimensions of a life under oppression be truly told. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
The narrator's isolation and the numbing way in which she walks through life while wondering, ''Does any of this really mean anything, or is it just there for you to wonder about,'' mean ''The Appointment'' is more a test of endurance than a pleasure. One could argue that this is precisely the point, given the duress and despair Müller seeks to capture, but duress in and of itself does not make a novel.
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Müller, Hertaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Löfdahl, KarinTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliveira, Claire deTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boehm, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hengel, Ria vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulse, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Alternative titles
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People/Characters
Important places
Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Ich bin bestellt.
I've been summoned. (English translation)
Quotations
Riding in a seat is like walking while you're sitting down.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Original title: Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312420544, Paperback)

WINNER OF THE 2009 NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

 
From the winner of the IMPAC Award, 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:41 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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