The Land of Green Plums
The Land of Green Plums (German: Herztier) is a novel by Herta Müller, published in 1994 by Rowohlt Verlag. Perhaps Müller's best-known work, the story portrays four young people living in a totalitarian police state in Communist Romania, ending with their emigration to Germany. The narrator is an unidentified young woman belonging to the ethnic German minority. Müller said the novel was written "in memory of my Romanian friends who were killed under the Ceauşescu regime".Like many of Müller's books, The Land of Green Plums illustrates the position of dissidents from the German minority in Romania, who suffered a double oppression under the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu. The rural German-speaking community tries to preserve its culture by enforcing traditional rules; once the main characters escape this environment through university study in the city, they suffer, as political dissidents, the oppression exercised by the totalitarian regime. Those who flee the country for Germany become cultural outcasts: they are not considered German there but rather Eastern Europeans. Critics read the novel as testifying to abuse and the ensuing trauma. Normal human relationships are rendered impossible by the lack of freedom of expression; the threat of violence, imprisonment, and execution; and the possibility that any personal friend may be a traitor. Written in a paratactic style, full of flashbacks and time shifts, the language of the book reflects trauma and political oppression.
After its publication in German and its translation into Dutch, the novel received moderate attention. It gained an international audience when the English translation by Michael Hofmann was published in 1996. In 1998 this translation won the International Dublin Literary Award, the largest prize given for a single work of fiction published in English. Following the announcement that Müller was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, The Land of Green Plums entered the bestseller list on Amazon.com.
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