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The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller
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The Land of Green Plums (1994)

by Herta Müller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 174 mentions

English (29)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Yiddish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All (36)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
...QUESTA STORIA ANDAVA RACCONTATA. (e letta). ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
With a quiet and unassuming style, the claustrophobically atmospheric novel leaves a lot of words unspoken between its obsessive, persistent imagery and motifs, its fragmented and indirect prose, evocative of the fear and subterfuge and uncertainty of life in a police state/post-WWII Romania. Haunting.

Stylistically not for everyone, the book is also an important history lesson on the totalitarian regime in Romania, an aftermath of WWII on the Eastern bloc. ( )
  kitzyl | Jun 12, 2017 |
Life under the dictatorship in Romania, this book focuses on a German Romanian and her student friends. A time of fear and death. Land of green plums is an unusual book, I haven't read many books from the point of view of ethnic Germans living in Eastern Europe. I think it is that aspect that interested me most, the narrative is mixed and often conflicting for the reader due to the heightened fear and paranoia of the main characters. It is not a long book, so I would recommend it for a journey- so as to get better caught up in the atmosphere. ( )
  soffitta1 | Mar 14, 2017 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2518530.html

A grim but very effectively told tale, of being an ethnic minority (in this case, German speakers) in a totalitarian Nationalist state (in this case, Ceaușescu's Ronmania) told in a bleak style of low-level horror. Our unnamed protagonist sees one close friend driven to suicide, and tries to form a nucleus of friendship with some other ethnic Germans in their regional capital, where they are kept under constant intrusive surveillance by the Securitate. Very vivid and ends unhappily. This book won the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and helped its writer win the 2009 Novel Prize for Literature. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Sep 12, 2015 |
This is probably Müller's best-known work, a semi-autobiographical account of a group of young people growing up in Ceaușescu's Romania and getting into conflict with the authorities. It's particularly about the way the experience of living under an authoritarian regime interferes with the freedom to articulate ideas. Everything has to be deflected into oblique images, as we learn on the opening page of the novel: the things that start out as simply encoded forms of communication (the nail-scissors, shoes and colds that stand for interrogations, searches and being followed in the group's letters) turn out to be deeply internalised in the narrator's own thought-processes.

This is a theme that is clearly central to Müller, and she came back to it in her Nobel lecture, where she uses a trivial image, the handkerchief, to tie together incidents from her own experience with her relatives' experiences under fascism and in Russia in the aftermath of the war. She talks about the moment when she realised that there were things she could not possibly express in speech, and started to write: "Ich lief dem gelebten im Teufelskreis der Wörter hinterher, bis etwas so auftauchte, wie ich es bisher nicht kannte." (I ran after experiences in the vicious circle of words, until something surfaced in a way I hadn't known it before) — that's a process that you can clearly see reflected in her very indirect, elliptical narrative style. And which ties in with her well-known fondness for making collages out of words cut from newspapers.

Interestingly, she uses two key incidents in the Nobel lecture that also appear in this novel: the time when she found that her office at work had been allocated to someone else, and she continued to work sitting on the stairs; and the time when her mother, locked up for the day by an irritable policeman, finds a bucket and spring-cleans the police station for want of anything better to do.

One thing that struck me about this much-translated book is the way it has two quite different families of titles, both referring to key images in the book, but oddly enough bringing out quite different aspects of what the book is about. In the German original and about half the other languages in the list that I can understand, it is called Herztier, "Heart-animal". This is a comforting image used by the narrator's grandmother, the invisible animal accompanying everyone, whose form and size reflect the strength with which we face the challenges of the outside world. (It reminded me of Philip Pullman's "daemons".). In English and the other half of the languages it is The land of green plums: Müller consistently and deliberately uses rural, agricultural imagery that we would normally think of as idyllic and nostalgic to represent the backward, inward-looking and mean-spirited qualities of peasant culture which she identifies as the driving force of the Romanian dictatorship. People who live in small villages are accustomed to denounce their neighbours for petty advantage (in fact it's probably a necessary survival strategy). Policemen are best recruited from raw peasants who haven't learnt the civilised ways of the big city, and who go around helping themselves to plums from the trees. So Herztier seems to be a novel about the internalisation of oppressive politics; Green plums becomes a novel about dictatorship as the apotheosis of rural poverty. And both are valid interpretations, of course... ( )
  thorold | Jul 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Ms. Muller's vision of a police state manned by plum thieves reads like a kind of fairy tale on the mingled evils of gluttony, stupidity and brutality.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Müller, Hertaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buras, AlicjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hengel, Ria vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henke , AlessandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hofmann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iuga, NoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Everyone had a friend in every wisp of cloud
that's how it is with friends where the world is full of fear
even my mother said, that's how it is
friends are out of the question
think of more serious things.

--Gellu Naum
Dedication
First words
When we don't speak, said Edgar, we become unbearable, and when we do, we make fools of ourselves.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0810115972, Paperback)

Like the narrator of her novel The Land of Green Plums, Herta Muller grew up a German minority in Ceausescu's Romania, which she eventually left to settle in Germany. Her own experience lends credibility to the voice of her young narrator, who inhabits a deprived police state in which minorities such as the ethnic Germans suffer persecution beyond the quotidian oppressions of Ceausescu's regime. The title refers to the young woman's observations of the swaggering policemen who wolf down plums from the city trees, even while they're still green; the act serves as a symbol of greed, arbitrary power, and stupidity. Although an element of the story is survival, achieved by clinging to the German culture and language, the novel also confronts the older characters' sympathy with the Nazis. Nevertheless, Muller's fictional heroine finds salvation, as she herself did, in modern Germany.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Five Romanian students under the Ceau?escu regime struggle to better their lives. Through the suicide of a mutual friend, the unnamed narrator meets a trio of young men with whom she shares a subjugated political and philosophic rebelliousness. The jobs the state assigns them after graduation pull each to a different quadrant of the country, and this, as well as the narrator's new friendship with the daughter of a prominent Party member, strains their relations. The group manages to maintain its closeness despite this, through coded letters.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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