From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Romanian-born German author Herta Müller wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Andrea Köhler is over the moon about the Swedish jury's decision, and describes Herta Müller's writing as a fight against the language of Ceaucescu's dictatorship. "Where the whole is a reality that is brutally forced upon every individual, you begin to live in the details. And perhaps it is only through a distance of a thousand deaths from this imposed reality, that the words become things again, things that don't exist in reality. Things like "dough-shoe" or "sky-birth-mark" or "spoon-bender". Cut out of its false context, language begins to build new alliances. Herta Müller's vocabulary constructs the world anew. But in the way they stand, her sentences always tell of the distance they have come."

In die Welt, Ernest Wichner, head of the Literaturhaus Berlin, pays a very personal tribute to Herta Müller. He followed Herta's project "Everything I Own I Have With Me" (English excerpt) from the outset, when she began interviewing the Romanian-German poet and Gulag survivor, Oskar Pastior, through his untimely death in 2006, when she was forced to complete the project alone. "And I was there when she finished the book, overjoyed and overwhelmed by the precision and love that Herta Müller invested in the portrait of her friend. At her ability to find language for hunger, death, suffering, the struggle for survival, opportunism, joy and shame and the countless mass of things that befall and plague a person in the process of their dehumanisation."

"A great day for German literature," Tilman Spreckelsen exclaims in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "By awarding Herta Müller this prize the Stockolm Academy is sending a message that could counteract some of the more foolish decisions of recent years. It is a tribute to artistry and ethics as two sides of the same coin, and not least to a shattered diaspora culture and its most articulate guardian."

Articles by Herta Müller at
"Securitate in all but name" from 31.08.2009
"Romania's collective amnesia" from 17.01.2007

An article about Oskar Pastior's poetry at
"The spell of a tender eel"

Read an excerpt from Herta Müller's latest novel "Everything I Own I Carry With Me" at

Listen to Herta Müller and Oskar Pastior read their poems at

Other stories:

Süddeutsche Zeitung

George Diez was in London to meet Ma Jian, the exiled Chinese writer whose epic "Beijing Coma" deals with the massacre of Tiananmen Square. He is fearful of contemporary China, which is repressing its history. "Today's prosperity has given many Chinese people a superficial self-confidence – but underneath there is not a vestige of self-respect. They feel persecuted by the rest of the world. They are not even citizens of their own country let alone citizens of the world. Their subservience translates into aggression and hostility towards others and a spreading nationalism which is merging with a shameless contempt for everything that western civilisation signifies."

Frankfurter Rundschau 08.10.2009

Bernhard Bartsch introduces the Chinese novelist and poet Qui Xialong, who has been living in the USA since 1988 and whose crime novels are heavily censored in China, if published at all. His first work of literature was a self-incrimination statement which he had to write for his businessman father in 1966. "My father was in hospital at the time, with his eyes bound after an eye operation, but the Red Guards insisted that he should continue to write regular self-incriminatory statements, Qiu explains. So his 14-year-old son was summoned. 'My father was very weak and so I had to write about what an exploiter and monstrous criminal my father was.' Qiu did a good job and the revolutionaries made no objections to his work then.

Die Welt

Decades after his death, C.G. Jung's 100-year-old "Red Book" has now been published, in which the psychoanalyst bares his soul in a bizarrely ingenious manner. Thomas Lindemann describes it as a "strange journey through mythology, darkness and dogged soul-searching. Here are dreams, thoughts, mini essays, as well as dialogues with imaginary people who are refered to as 'Soul" or sometimes Izdubar, the ancient Babylonian bull-man. As a number of facsimiles in the book show, Jung adopted a medieval style of illuminated writing, in the style of the Carolingian miniscule. In between he added complex images, reminiscent of Byzantine art, and - it has to be said – 1970s record covers, from the esoteric periods of Chick Corea or the Mahavishnu Orchestra."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 08.10.2009

Twenty years after the mass demonstration of 9th October, Joachim Güntner visits the Leipzig civil rights activist to pay his respect: "When they talk about their achievements Uwe Schwabe, Rainer Müller and Oliver Kloss never get over-excited. No one boasts about the courage needed for resistance; no one blows his own trumpet, and even the head-shaking about nostalgia for the GDR or the survival of a SED-saturated milieu seems more amused than angry. But all three find it "disappointing and damaging" that a former SED supporter (as a member of the East German CDU), Saxony's President Slanislaw Tillich, is to make the commemorative speech tomorrow.

Die Zeit 08.10.2009

You don't have to have served or risked your life to be against the war in Afghanistan, writes the author Dietmar Dath, in response to another author Thea Dorn who, three weeks ago, voiced her criticism of petition signed by Dath and 24 other artists, for the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. This has nothing to do with creating a civil society in Afghanistan, Dath writes. "Soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are not risking their lives for high ideals but for prior decisions made by global power politics. Those who make the decisions in the 'Berlin Republic' do not want to be ignored on the global stage, for strategic, prestige-related, economic or other reasons. These are being covered up more than exposed, by an assumed German responsibility for the bloody chaos which was left behind by the conflict between the Soviet Union and the West in Afghanistan." - let's talk european