The Hunger Angel

Herta Müller

Published: 1 August 2013
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781846272783

Translated from the German by Philip Boehm


'I know you'll return.' These are his grandmother's last words to him. Leo has them in his head as he boards the truck to Russia one freezing mid-January morning in 1945. They keep him alive - through hunger, pain, and despair - during his time in the Gulag. And, eventually, they will bring him back home. Müller has distilled Leo's struggle into words of breathtaking intensity that take us on a journey far beyond one man's physical travails and into the depths of the human soul.

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 haunting and lyrical novel’ Ángel Gurría Quintana, Books of the Year



‘A remarkable novel, both bleak and chastening. The detail is extraordinary’ Helen Dunmore

‘A work of rare force, a feat of sustained and overpowering poetry... Müller has the ability to distil concrete objects into language of the greatest intensity and to sear these objects onto the reader's mind’

‘An important look at one of the 20th century's lesser known persecutions... Moving’ Mina Holland

‘Her imagery is startlingly distinct and yet nightmarish... [it has a] poetic intensity of focus, shape-shifting language, and a structure of brief chapters that talk to one another indirectly... Bleak, chastening, remarkable’ Helen Dunmore

‘In this haunting and lyrical novel... Müller distils the hopelessness of captivity into poetic prose, and examines the challenges faced by those who survived’

‘It is clear that the translator Philip Boehm has managed a difficult task with sensitivity and imagination... [This] book can exert a spell... Imaginative and poetic’ Allan Massie

‘Müller is a writer who releases great emotional power through a highly sophisticated, image-studded, and often expressionist prose. It must have been a combination of her own technical self-confidence and the urge to break silence about the fate of her parents' generation that led her to attack a project as difficult as this’

‘Müller takes us beyond pain, beyond politics and into the unrecognisable’ Lesley McDowell

‘Müller writes with a deft economy of words and narrative verve ... I was absorbed from beginning to end’ Ian Thomson

‘Müller's fiction charts fragile acts of resistance in a surreal totalitarian bureaucracy of lies, spies and intimate betrayals’ Maya Jaggi

‘Müller's limpid narrative creates an extraordinary sense of intimacy and communion with the reader’

‘Not just a good novel, but a great one... Müller is through and through a stylist. Her novel is written in a taut idiomatic German, which breaks into paragraphs of wrenching, Rilkean lyricism’ A.N. Wilson

‘One of the few major recent contributions to the imaginative literature of the concentration camp... Brilliant’ Richard Stern

‘Terse, hypnotic prose... a moving novel’

‘The power and poetic intensity of Müller's writing make [this] one of the most imaginative and memorable novels about life in a concentration camp’ Brian McCabe

‘The serious handling of its subject matter cannot be doubted, nor can its commitment to deranged imagery’ Tom Cox

‘This novel alone justifies [Müller's Nobel Prize]... [It] evokes camp life not only with compelling vividness but also with unforced lyricism’ Ritchie Robertson

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