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Nadirs (European Women Writers) Paperback – September 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

M?ller, who won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for The Land of Green Plums, is considered one of the most gifted contemporary German-language writers, a claim this newly translated collection of stories would seem to prove. Once again, M?ller takes us back to Communist Romania. But unlike her previous work, Nadirs is a very personal book, as much about M?ller's own family sagas as it is about the inescapable scars of communism. Perhaps the most pertinent word to describe this dainty collection is contradictionAthe narratives portray what is real and undeniable in a surreal and almost absurd way, yet the seemingly unadorned storytelling demands the maximum concentration from the reader. Originally published in German ten years ago, this book was well worth the wait; it is an important achievement in contemporary Eastern European literature.AMirela Roncevic, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Muller has sewn together a collection of semiautobiographical stories of her bleak childhood in Romania. Poverty, sickness, isolation, and sexual promiscuity run throughout the stories. Her family and community fear God, inherit and pass on superstitions, and gossip endlessly. Muller presents stark portraits of life on small farms in Romania. At times the stories are hard to follow, but Muller's girl narrator is just as confused, trying to piece together nightmares, dreams, and memories of her heartbreaking home life. She feels isolated from her parents, while the village keeps its distance from the family with rumors of illegitimacy. The German-speaking village itself is an island within Romania. The author does allow her narrator to escape the countryside, only to live in the ridged confusion of city life. This is not a sentimental book, but Muller's keen sense of showing rural life as opposed to describing it makes this a very emotional and disturbing one. Michelle Kaske --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: European Women Writers
  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Pr (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803282540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803282544
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Romania in 1953, Herta Müller lost her job as a teacher and suffered repeated threats after refusing to cooperate with Ceauşescu's secret police. She succeeded in emigrating in 1987 and now lives in Berlin. She won the IMPAC Award for her novel The Land of the Green Plums, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Romanian-German author POV collection of memories of life in Pre-wall fall Romania. The animal abuse will make you sick alone.
Incest stories as normal, as well as alcoholism is as old as the hills.
Her writing style is why she received (deserved) the Nobel. When you read her stories,
every sentence could be the title of a chapter. Almost Hemmingway-esque
in the amount of information per sentence is compounded by the 'reporting'
or observational style of the stories offering little (very little) editorials.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By scott89119 VINE VOICE on January 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Nadir [ney-der] (n): The lowest point; point of greatest adversity or despair.

Nadirs is a series of short stories of varying lengths, though they follow no strict storylines and are instead rather like surrealist portraits of how a child perceives their (brutal) environment. It is difficult to review this book from a critical perspective, because the majority of it reads like a simple Romanian countrygirl's innermost thoughts, but transmogrified into a repression-tinted art. She has every right to her dreams, as everyone does, though the Communist regime would snatch them from her if they could. Because of Muller's defeated yet indifferent tone, the stories read like stark still pictures peopled with those resigned to their fates. The language is small but dense with meaning and imagery, and while it sometimes veers off into poorly translated gobbledygook ("The rotten pears creep back into her skin" -really?) it is never less than captivating and original. Of special note are the book's two closing stories, "Black Park" and "Workday", whose simplicities (like the other stories as well) belie an almost tragic psychological insight. A more than worthy addition to any Eastern European lit collection.
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Format: Paperback
Herta Muller's little book of juxtaposed vignettes is really like a book of diary entries. In each story the conveyance of old world village life is expertly imparted as an encapsulated sometimes primitive realm that is only glued together by superstition, animal cruelty, endless gossip, a blurring of moral codes and amorous liaisons that distort and stunt the religious and moral development of the next generation, a broken lot in every conceivable way. When the foundation of normalcy is broken, what is there to cling to and follow as an example? And while all the aforementioned happenings are grim and evocative of a wider sense of despair, Muller's honed literary craft points to the source of all the misery: Communism. The socialism that is expressed has a negative trickle down effect that makes a bad life even worse and changes once normal and self-respecting human beings into the exact opposite of their God given good potential. Up is down. Black is white. And 2 + 2 = 5. Everything is off kilter, but there is not a natural ebb and flow to it. The hardened fluidity of the language mirrors the hardened life. The lifestyles of the farmers and villagers are forcibly held together by sheer tenacity or perhaps fear. Although that is not as tangibly expressed as it was in Muller's novels The Appointment or The Land of Green Plums, the implication is defiantly there. The black pall is an ever present character laced throughout all the stories, even though the reader is never bluntly told of such a shadowy form, for it is felt more than anything else. Though labeled fiction, this work is absolutely autobiographical. One can almost sense Muller herself with her eyes closed recalling her warped and brutal past, each vignette slowly pouring forth in a stream-of-consciousness manner.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Nadirs (European Women Writers) by Herta Muller, who recently won the the Nobel Prize for Literature (click for my article), is a collection of mostly autobiographical short stories about surviving a communist regime and personal drama. This 120-page work is translated from her native German language, and is one of only a few of her works that have been translated into English. Muller straddles the surreal and reality in her stories, and in some cases this balance is executed better than in others. However, her concise and detailed language paints vivid pictures for readers of harsh conditions and deep sadness and other emotions.

In many ways these short stories are more like long, narrative poems filled with imagery, metaphor, and illusion, but there are occasions when Muller clearly outlines what is happening in these families and how it impacts each narrator, who in many cases is a young girl. In "Rotten Pears," the young narrator travels with her father and her aunt to a village to sell their vegetables and fruit, but staying overnight in a strange village reveals dark family secrets and alludes to other possibilities.

With stories ranging from just a few pages to 60 pages or more, Nadirs has something for the quick trip on the subway or the long leisurely moments on the couch, though many of these stories deal with deep sadness and betrayal. Muller also is clearly a poet, economizing her words to create images that will burn into readers minds and remain there for many hours, days, weeks, and months. She uses repetition and juxtapositions of black and white, noise and silence, and other techniques to peak readers' curiosity.
Read more ›
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