Herta Müller wins Nobel Prize for literature …

October 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Nobel Literature… and looks just pleased as punch about it.

The Romanian-born author is little-known in North America, but has a following in her adopted home of Germany, where she emigrated to in 1987. Müller was a vocal critic of the Ceausescu regime in her native country, and according to the Guardian received death threats when she refused to become an informant for the regime’s secret police. Because of her outspoken opposition to Ceausescu’s government, her books were banned in Romania, but her novel The Land of the Green Plums won the Dublin IMPAC Award in 1996.

From the Guardian:

According to the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Peter Englund, Müller’s “moral momentum” means she fits the criteria for the award “perfectly.”

“On one hand she’s an excellent author with truly fantastic language,” he said, “and on the other she has the capacity of really giving you a sense of what it’s like to live in a dictatorship, also what it’s like to be part of a minority in another country and what it’s like to be an exile.”

Englund also praised Müller’s “extreme precision with words.” “She has been living in a dictatorship which constantly misused and abused language, and this has forced a sort of scepticism in her regarding the use of words, the use of language,” he said. “She has a very, very fine-tuned precision in her language.”

That’s the same Peter Englund who earlier this week worried aloud that the Nobel was becoming too Eurocentric. (Only two of the winners since 1994 are not European citizens.) Eurocentric or not, yr. humble correspondent’s going to go out on a limb and say that the award may still be a wee bit gender biased: Müller is only the 12th woman to win the award in 108 years.