Romanian Herta Müller – novelist, essayist and poet – has won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. Müller’s fiction is noted for its depiction of the brutal conditions of life under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime (1974–1989).
Müller was born in 1953. After studying literature in the early 1970s, she was sacked from her first job as a translator in a machinery factory after refusing to work for the state secret police. This proved a pivotal moment in Müller’s life – a budding novelist, she decided she would not publish in Romania, for fear of censorship. Her first novel, Niederungen (Nadirs) – which described the dreariness of life under Ceausescu – was smuggled into West Germany and was published in 1984. The influential German magazine, Spiegel, declared Müller a ‘discovery’.
Müller’s subsequent works have focused on non-conformist life, as well as observations from her childhood and village life and family. Her latest novel, published this year, is Atemschaukel. An English translation is forthcoming.
Last year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was Frenchman Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio.
To read Roger Boyes’ excellent profile of Herta Müller in the Times Literary Supplement, please click here.