Published: 5 May 2016
Trade Paperback, Demy PB
135x216mm, 256 pages
The Fox Was Ever the Hunter
Published: 5 May 2016
Translated by Philip Boehm.
Romania, the last months of the dictator's regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara, Adina's friend, works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara's lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on the group.
One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another day, a hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilation is a sign that she is being tracked - the fox was ever the hunter.
Images of photographic precision combine to form a kaleidoscope of reflections, deflections and deceit. Adina and her friends struggle to keep living in a world permeated with fear, where even the eyes of a cat seem complicit with the watchful eye of the state, and where it's hard to tell the victim apart from the perpetrator.
‘[An] extraordinary novel... Now a Nobel Laureate [...] Muller lays bare the totalitarian attack on the individual and the everyday horror of life under a repressive regime. There is a cinematic intensity to the narrative [... and] Muller's oblique, often microscopic, viewpoint and her inclination towards the grotesque, transform the [opening] scene into one full of disgust and foreboding... This ethereal, other-worldly atmosphere gradually gives way to the horrors of a more defined reality... The mounting tension made tangible by such scenes is felt most intensely in Muller's language. Short, clipped sentences accumulate, overlapping and building into a noisy, symphonic whole. [...] Muller herself does not dictate to us and often lets the truth emerge from what remains unsaid. The result is a profoundly unsettling novel, which renders palpable the cruelty of life under the regime, as well as the brittle exhilarations of its overthrow.’ Charlotte Ryland
‘Her prose - as poetic as it is blunt -works like a prism, shattering and illuminating a world that is always watching, waiting. [A] dark collage, which glints with fear - and with beauty.’
‘Herta Muller fled Romania for Germany, and the lingering memories of her ex-state's oppressiveness saturate this novel. Set in the final months of Ceausescu's rule... [It's] effective at evoking a monotonous, joyless existence defined by hunters preying on hunted’ Lesley McDonald
‘Poetic [and] haunting... deftly rendered by Philip Boehm... In her writing, Müller inches closer to narrowing the gap between people and things, between life and language’
‘When the collage is completed, the reader understands that each and every one of Müller's stories, every flight of luscious language and every brutal fact, has been necessary in depicting a society torn to pieces and tasked, with the curtains finally open and the light streaming in, with putting those pieces back together to make sense of it all’