Book to Read: Herta Müller's The Hunger Angel

Via Band of Thebes

In 1945 in Romania, 17 year-old ethnic German Leo Auberg was enjoying regular public park and bathhouse trysts with a 34 year-old married man until the police deport him to a Soviet labor camp. Of The Hunger Angel’s 280 pages of very short chapters, 250 pages cover Leo’s five years in the work camp, minutely describing nearly freezing and almost starving and the other prisoners’ strategies for survival in poetic yet detached prose.

You don’t need me to tell you that a Nobel Prize winner’s new book is brilliant, but you could use a friend to encourage you to stick with Herta Müller to the end. A gay novel, and a totalitarian novel, the book manifests the closet and political silence -- meaning, the narrator is too scared to address its themes directly. Physically, emotionally, linguistically, everything reflects displacement:

"You’re not allowed to talk about hunger when you’re hungry."

and

"I carry silent baggage. I have packed myself into silence so deeply and for so long that I can never unpack myself using words."

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