The Appointment

Herta Müller

Published: 7 July 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 224 pages
ISBN: 9781846273766

Translated by Michael Hulse and Philip Boehm


'I've been summoned, Thursday, ten sharp.' So begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceausescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before, but this time she knows it 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 the country.As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot while trying to flee to Hungary; to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them; to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers; and to Paul, her lover and the one person she can trust. In her distraction, she misses her stop and finds herself on an unfamiliar street.And what she discovers there suddenly puts her fear of the appointment into chilling perspective.

Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment is a pitiless rendering of the terrors of a crushing regime.

About the author

Image of Herta Müller

Herta Müller was born on 17 August 1953 in Nitzkydorf (Banat/Romania). Her parents belonged to the German-speaking minority. Her father was a lorry driver, her mother a peasant. She attended school and university in Temeswar. After refusing to work for the Romanian secret service, the Securitate, she lost her job as translator in a machine factory. Nadirs, her first book, lay around at the publishers for four years and was heavily censored when it was eventually published. The manuscript was smuggled to Germany and published in 1984. In 1987, she emigrated to Germany and has lived in Berlin ever since. She has a string of literary prizes to her name, including the Aspekte Literature Prize (1984), the Kleist Prize (1994), the Prix Aristeion (1995), the Konrad Adenauer prize for literature (2004) and, the Nobel Prize for Literature (2009). More about the author


‘A brooding, fog-shrouded allegory of life under the long oppression of the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.’



‘A slim, masterfully written tale.’

‘A strange, lyrical and disturbing allegory of life in Ceausescu's Romania.’ Hari Kunzru

‘A taut and brilliant book.’

‘A tour de force in storytelling, which manages to turn the barest of prose into poetry ... Expertly translated by Michael Hulse and Philip Boehm, it is a chilling story, exquisitely told’

‘Herta Muller is a passionate artist of protest.’ Eileen Battersby

‘Müller achieves something beautiful. She has wrested poetry from one woman's desire to remain human in an inhuman system.

‘Müller scatters narrative bombshells across a field of dreams.’

‘Nobody since Arthur Koestler in the 1940s has written more intelligently or with such subtle precision about life under totalitarianism ... Müller has an exceptionally rare talent - to turn the terrifying, the distorted and the hideously ugly into something uplifting and beautiful’

‘The Appointment is both a pleasure to read and horrifying. Written with painful clarity, it is seductively conversational, yet every sentence demands attention ... The control of ideas and pace in a novel that still allows rolling emotion behind every line is remarkable.’

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