The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller

86%

14 Critic Reviews

The talent and discipline that enabled Müller to do this for her character are what make this book one of the few contributions to the imaginative literature of the concentration camp.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A masterful new novel from the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize, hailed for depicting the "landscape of the dispossessed" with "the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose" (Nobel Prize Committee)

It was an icy morning in January 1945 when the patrol came for seventeen-year-old Leo Auberg to deport him to a camp in the Soviet Union. Leo would spend the next five years in a coke processing plant, shoveling coal, lugging bricks, mixing mortar, and battling the relentless calculus of hunger that governed the labor colony: one shovel load of coal is worth one gram of bread.

In her new novel, Nobel laureate Herta Müller calls upon her unique combination of poetic intensity and dispassionate precision to conjure the distorted world of the labor camp in all its physical and moral absurdity. She has given Leo the language to express the inexpressible, as hunger sharpens his senses into an acuity that is both hallucinatory and profound. In scene after disorienting scene, the most ordinary objects accrue tender poignancy as they acquire new purpose—a gramophone box serves as a suitcase, a handkerchief becomes a talisman, an enormous piece of casing pipe functions as a lovers' trysting place. The heart is reduced to a pump, the breath mechanized to the rhythm of a swinging shovel, and coal, sand, and snow have a will of their own. Hunger becomes an insatiable angel who haunts the camp, but also a bare-knuckled sparring partner, delivering blows that keep Leo feeling the rawest connection to life.

Müller has distilled Leo's struggle into words of breathtaking intensity that take us on a journey far beyond the Gulag and into the depths of one man's soul.

 

About Herta Muller

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Herta M?ller was born in Timis, Romania in 1953. A vocal member of the German minority, she was forced to leave the country in 1987, and moved to Berlin, where she still lives. This edition of The Passport was the first publication of M?ller's work in English. She is the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
 
Published April 24, 2012 by Metropolitan Books. 304 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Hunger Angel
All: 14 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
Apr 15 2012

Leo’s sexual orientation is not well integrated into the narrative; his post-camp experiences are too compressed.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Richard Stern on Jun 08 2012

The talent and discipline that enabled Müller to do this for her character are what make this book one of the few contributions to the imaginative literature of the concentration camp.

Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Helen Dunmore on Nov 21 2012

This is a remarkable novel, both bleak and chastening.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Mina Holland on Nov 17 2012

The flagrant monotony and misery of camp life provide a moving account of Leo's experience.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Apr 30 2012

Boehm's translation preserves the integrity of Müller's gorgeous prose, and Leo's despondent reveries are at once tragic and engrossing.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Jack Goodstein on May 05 2012

Boehm's translation is the language of poetry; it is a style that demands as much time with eyes away from the page thinking, as actually reading the words.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on May 08 2012

Leo endures, of course, surviving to tell this dark and urgent story. The method Muller deploys to portray such endurance should last as well. Perhaps, like me, you'll be waiting for each of her new books from now on.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Anna Porter on Jun 02 2012

This extraordinary book lays his unquiet soul to rest.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Thomas McGonigle on Jun 03 2012

"The Hunger Angel" presents a powerful experience, and knowing the subsequent history provides a direct visceral understanding of just how insidious and psychologically devastating was the experience of living in such a camp.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Rayyan Al-Shawaf on May 03 2012

“The Hunger Angel” illumines a terrifying and inhuman phenomenon that for decades was sanitized by its orchestrators...

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Book Loons

Good
Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The Hunger Angel has been translated from German, but the style of writing even in translation comes across as powerful and poetic.

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Of Books and Reading

Good
Jun 14 2012

Herta Müller writes with urgency that I have not seen in any other writer.

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Axe for the Frozen Sea

Good
Jun 23 2012

Read The Hunger Angel to experience the most incredible writing, to witness the work of a literary genius.

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BookSexy

Good
Jun 14 2012

I was emotionally engaged despite the restrained tone in which the stories are told… often becoming outraged, upset and heartbroken by what I was hearing/reading.

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Eric Brown 28 Sep 2014

Rated the book as 4.5 out of 5

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