'Just as the father in the house in which we live is our father, so Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu is the father of our country. And just as the mother in the house in which we live is our mother, so Comrade Elena Ceausescu is the mother of our country. Comrade Nicolae Ceasescu is the father of our children. All the children love comrade Nicolae and comrade Elena, because they are their parents.'
The Passport is a beautiful, haunting novel whose subject is a German village in Romania caught between the stifling hopelessness of Ceaucescu's dictatorship and the glittering temptations of the West. Stories from the past are woven together with the problems Windisch, the village miller, faces after he applies for permission to migrate to West Germany. Herta Müller describes with poetic attention the dreams and superstitions, conflicts and oppression of a forgotten region, the Banat, in the Danube Plain. In sparse, poetic language, Herta Müller captures the forlorn plight of a trapped people.Translated by Martin Chalmers.
'With the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, Müller depicts the language of the dispossessed', Jury of the Nobel Prize for Literature
'Appropriately on the side of underdogs from Ceausescu's dystopia to Ukrainian labour camps... so opening the eyes of non-German readers to new worlds. And that, fromBeowulfto Müller, is a noble as well as a Nobel function of literature', The Times
'Especially now, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's a beautiful signal that such high quality literature and this life experience are being honoured', Angela Merkel
'[Muller's] dark, closely observed and sometimes violent work often explores exile and the grim quotidian realities of life under Ceausescu... Her sensibility is often bleak, but the detail in her fiction can whip it alive', New York Times
'Graphically observed... forces the reader to confront the complex tapestry of Eastern European history in the late 20th Century. And although the author left Romania in the 1980s, she remains interested in the issues of oppression and exile, which makes her a universal writer', Razia Iqbal, BBC Arts Correspondent
'Müller is courageous and has summoned her surrealist imagination to brilliant effect when exposing the horrors of totalitarianism...The Passport, which was published in Berlin in 1986, months before she fled Romania, is an almost allegorical elegy of village life dominated by the need to escape.... Müller uses the quality of European folk tale to brilliant effect. Set in a German village in Romania where the people dream of a different life in the West, the story is true to any country in which fantasy is the only escape from oppression... Politics and truth-telling, the courage of the witness and the weight of the message often decides the Nobel Literature Prize; in Herta Müller all of these elements are present, yet so too is the artist as the lone voice beckoning, intent on telling a story, on shaping a word picture', Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
'Müller has an eye for the surreal detail of a police state and has made it into strong, muscular literature', The Times
'Praise for The Passport:A phenomenal, moving and humbling novel, perhaps the most memorable read of the autumn', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
'Herta Müller's language is the purest poetry. Every sentence has the rhythm of poetry, indeed is a poem or a painting', Nurnerger Nachrichten
'Herta Muller portrays a community that is breaking up, a dying village whose German inhabitants all seek to emigrate. At the centre stands the miller Windisch waiting for his passport. Bribing the mayor with sacks of flour proved in vain - so, now, in a rage of helpnessness, he has to allow his daughter to visit the militiaman and the priest, to search for passports and baptismal certificates in their beds. The dirty realities of a totalitarian state... a chilling, far-sighted and lyrical graveside speech for a sad village in a sad land', Neue Zurcher Zeitung
'Praise for The Land of Green Plums:A novel of graphically observed detail in which the author seeks to create a sort of poetry out of the spiritual and material ugliness of life in Communist Romania', New York Times
'A powerful autobiographical account,The Land of Green Plums... will linger on in the mind', Guardian
'The Land of Green Plums