The Nobel committee has surprised many with the announcement that this year’s literature prize has gone to Herta Mueller.
The official making the announcement said: “Mueller… who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” The Romanian-born German writer was among those taken aback, and was reportedly lost for words on hearing the news. Bookmakers had Israeli novelist Amos Oz as favourite to win, with Americans Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth as leading contenders. Mueller is best known for works such as “The Land of Green Plums” which she dedicated to Romanian friends killed under communist rule. Her body of work charts the brutality and oppressiveness of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship. She herself had been a victim after refusing to become an informer. The Nobel’s Academy’s decision has gone done well in Germany. One admirer in a bookshop in Berlin said: “I am really happy about this choice, I think it is a courageous choice. I’m very familiar with her book “Niederungen”, I read these short stories years ago and they overwhelmed me, as did her thought-provoking essays. I’m impressed by her feeling for the violence of language. She doesn’t use pretentious language.” Mueller will receive the award and the almost one million euros in prize money at a ceremony in December.