Picador USA, Paperback, 9780312655372, 230pp.
Publication Date: November 23, 2010
From the winner of the IMPAC Award and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, a fierce and devastating novel about a young woman's discovery of betrayal in the most intimate reaches of her life
"I've been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp." Thus begins a day in the life of a young factory worker during Ceausescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men's suits bound for Italy. "Marry me," the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of Romania.
As each tram stop brings the young woman closer to the appointment, her thoughts stray to her father and his infidelities; to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary; to her grandparents, deported after her own husband informed on them; and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust despite his drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop and finds herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the interrogation pale by comparison.
Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment powerfully renders the humiliating terrors of a crushing regime and its corrosive effects on family and friendship, sex and love.
“Herta Müller’s prose is as haunting as a cloud that won’t go away, brittle like ice that won’t ever crack, and sharp like plum brandy you’ll never wish to forget. Hers is the voice of a world forever slipping into a vertigo of silent rage while desperately struggling to be human—a world which confuses kindness with cruelty because it has already confused good and evil.”
—André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt
“A brooding, fog-shrouded allegory of life under the long oppression of the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.”
—The New York Times
“The Appointment echoes Kafka's The Castle and The Trial in its account of someone summoned repeatedly for ominous interrogations. Müller scatters narrative bombshells across a field of dreams.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A slim, masterfully written tale.”
“A taut and brilliant book.”
“Powerful. . . Müller achieves something beautiful. She has wrested poetry from one woman’s desire to remain human in an inhuman system.”
“With terse poetry, Müller brings to life a profoundly moving world. . . The lyrical beauty of the prose and its unflinching moral and emotional honesty carry the reader.”