Brigid Haines – Herta Müller: Nobel Laureate 2009

Herta Müller: Nobel Laureate 2009

“who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”
Nobel Prize Citation

The Romanian-German writer Herta Müller (1953-) was a surprise choice for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009, but, argues Brigid Haines in this interview with Irish radio channel RTE, a justified one. Whether writing of the oppression in Ceaucescu’s Romania, of life as an immigrant in Berlin, or, in her latest novel, Atemschaukel (Everything I own I carry with me), of daily life in the Soviet Gulags, Müller transfigures grim reality into poetic prose. Her works will endure because they are a manifesto against forgetting, written utterly without nostalgia, which memorialise a very uncomfortable past. This wide-ranging interview gives an overview of Müller’s life and major literary works, her use of language, the influence of Romanian on her style, the translations, and her collages. It also locates her work among other contemporary eastern European writers.

Brigid Haines is Reader in German and Head of Modern Languages at Swansea University. She is the author (with Margaret Littler) of Contemporary Women’s Writing in German: Changing the Subject (OUP, 2004) and the editor of Herta Müller (UWP, 1998), and (with Lyn Marven) of Libuše Moníková in Memoriam (Rodopi, 2005). Together with Lyn Marven she coordinates the Herta Müller network and is planning a new volume on her works.

This interview was originally broadcast on Arts Tonight on RTÉ Radio 1.


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