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 MullerSee more books from this Author
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
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.Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel | See more reviews from NPR
"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.Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel | See more reviews from LA Times
“The Hunger Angel” illumines a terrifying and inhuman phenomenon that for decades was sanitized by its orchestrators...Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel
The Hunger Angel has been translated from German, but the style of writing even in translation comes across as powerful and poetic.Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel
Herta Müller writes with urgency that I have not seen in any other writer.Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel
Read The Hunger Angel to experience the most incredible writing, to witness the work of a literary genius.Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel
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.Read Full Review of The Hunger Angel
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