The Hunger Angel | Granta

  • Published: 01/08/2013
  • ISBN: 9781846272783
  • 129x20mm
  • 304 pages

The Hunger Angel

Herta Müller

Translated by Philip Boehm

I know you’ll return.’ These are his grandmother’s last words to him. Leo has them in his head as he boards the truck to Russia one freezing mid-January morning in 1945. They keep him alive – through hunger, pain, and despair – during his time in the Gulag. And, eventually, they will bring him back home. Müller has distilled Leo’s struggle into words of breathtaking intensity that take us on a journey far beyond one man’s physical travails and into the depths of the human soul.

Not just a good novel, but a great one... Müller is through and through a stylist. Her novel is written in a taut idiomatic German, which breaks into paragraphs of wrenching, Rilkean lyricism

A.N. Wilson, Financial Times

Her imagery is startlingly distinct and yet nightmarish... [it has a] poetic intensity of focus, shape-shifting language, and a structure of brief chapters that talk to one another indirectly... Bleak, chastening, remarkable

Helen Dunmore, Guardian

A work of rare force, a feat of sustained and overpowering poetry... Müller has the ability to distil concrete objects into language of the greatest intensity and to sear these objects onto the reader's mind

Times Literary Supplement

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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From the Same Author

Herta Müller on

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

Words in the Head and Words in the Sentence

Herta Müller

‘During an interrogation speech glows hot in the mouth, and what is spoken freezes.’

Herta Müller on language. Translated from the German by Philip Boehm.

Fiction | Granta 125

Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle

Herta Müller

‘Who knows: what I write I must eat, what I don’t write – eats me.’

Fiction | Granta 134

The Way of the Apple Worm

Herta Müller

‘The mother of the needle is the place that bleeds.’