The Fox Was Ever the Hunter | Granta

  • Published: 02/03/2017
  • ISBN: 9781846274770
  • 129x20mm
  • 256 pages

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter

Herta Müller

Translated by Philip Boehm

Romania, the last months of the dictator’s regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara, Adina’s friend, works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara’s lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on the group.

One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another day, a hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilation is a sign that she is being tracked – the fox was ever the hunter.

Images of photographic precision combine to form a kaleidoscope of reflections, deflections and deceit. Adina and her friends struggle to keep living in a world permeated with fear, where even the eyes of a cat seem complicit with the watchful eye of the state, and where it’s hard to tell the victim apart from the perpetrator.

Extraordinary... Muller lays bare the totalitarian attack on the individual and the everyday horror of life under a repressive regime. There is a cinematic intensity to the narrative... This ethereal, other-worldly atmosphere gradually gives way to the horrors of a more defined reality... The mounting tension made tangible by such scenes is felt most intensely in Muller's language. Short, clipped sentences accumulate, overlapping and building into a noisy, symphonic whole... A profoundly unsettling novel, which renders palpable the cruelty of life under the regime, as well as the brittle exhilarations of its overthrow

Charlotte Ryland, TLS

Her prose - as poetic as it is blunt -works like a prism, shattering and illuminating a world that is always watching, waiting. [A] dark collage, which glints with fear - and with beauty

The Atlantic

Poetic [and] haunting... deftly rendered by Philip Boehm... In her writing, Müller inches closer to narrowing the gap between people and things, between life and language

Washington Post

The Author

Herta Müller was born on 17 August 1953 in Nitzkydorf (Banat/Romania). Her parents belonged to the German-speaking minority. Her father was a lorry driver, her mother a peasant. She attended school and university in Temeswar. After refusing to work for the Romanian secret service, the Securitate, she lost her job as translator in a machine factory. Nadirs, her first book, lay around at the publishers for four years and was heavily censored when it was eventually published. The manuscript was smuggled to Germany and published in 1984. In 1987, she emigrated to Germany and has lived in Berlin ever since. She has a string of literary prizes to her name, including the Aspekte Literature Prize (1984), the Kleist Prize (1994), the Prix Aristeion (1995), the Konrad Adenauer prize for literature (2004) and, the Nobel Prize for Literature (2009).

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The Translator

Philip Boehm has translated numerous works from German and Polish by authors including Herta Müller, Franz Kafka, and Stefan Chwin. For the theater he has written plays such as Mixtitlan, The Death of Atahualpa, and Return of the Bedbug. He has received awards from the American Translators Association, the U.K. Society of Authors, the NEA, PEN America, the Austrian Ministry of Culture, the Mexican-American Fund for Culture, and the Texas Institute of Letters. He lives in St. Louis, where he is the artistic director of Upstream Theater.

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