The Passport

Herta Mueller, Author, Martin Chalmers, Translator Serpent's Tail $12.95 (93p) ISBN 978-1-85242-139-7
This English-language debut by a Romanian-born West Berliner is remarkable for its stylistic purity. Muller's angry tale of an ethnic German anxious to emigrate from his stultifying Romanian village is relayed in deceptively straightforward sentences (``Katharina had sold her winter coat for ten slices of bread. Her stomach was a hedgehog. Every day Katharina picked a bunch of grass. The grass soup was warm and good'') that pile up in striking patterns (later, ``the second snow came. . . . The hedgehog stabbed''). Intently focused prose animates the parochial town with its corrupt power brokers, gamey folk songs and a tree reputed to have eaten its own apples, as well as the problematic relations among the central character, his embittered wife and their nubile daughter, who, like her mother before her during the war, is forced to grant sexual favors to men of privilege. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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