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The Appointment: A Novel
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on January 26, 2013
The author of this novel was born in Romania in 1953, and after becoming a teacher, butted heads with Ceaucescu's Securitate. She was subjected to repeated threats until she got to Berlin in 1987. "The Appointment," brilliantly written about this horrendous time, shows why she was chosen for a Nobel Prize.

The narrator is a young woman living in a desolate Romanian city who is ordered to appear before a Major Albu several times a week for being a suspected spy. The informer is the boss of a clothing factory where she had worked, whose advances she spurned. His retaliation was to report that she had been slipping notes into some of the men's jackets they made, which had been a desperate attempt on her part to try to reach out to anyone in another country who might help her.

The Major warns that she must arrive by 10am sharp on various days of his choosing. The shoddy, irregular tram she rides to his office building forces her to allow two hours traveling time to make sure she's not late. Aside from worrying about being on time, she tries to calm herself and be alert for the questioning. When she arrives, Albu never fails to brutally pinch her fingertips while slobbering on her hand. This annoying gesture becomes something much worse later on.

Looking out at bleak images along the route and being in the company of the various and strange people that ride the tram, the narrator tries to make sense of her life. The plot is framed around these trips to the appointments, which she notices are becoming more and more frequent. As time passes, her thoughts and memories become more revealing, but they also become more confusing. This is a very intriguing way to build to the climax, which takes some careful reading to understand.
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on December 15, 2010
Ceaucescu's Romania is smothered in paranoiac uncertainty in this chilling novel of friends who must disavow each other in public and lovers who cannot be certain who the other person really is. Identities are obscure; histories untrustworthy; employers witlessly duped by the security forces who are implacable and cunning. This is a dark but very poetic novel of helplessness and struggle to maintain sanity in an insane world. The poetry is a dark shroud over a dead land. The border curtains are not iron; they are lead, guarded by village boys who shoot to win a week's vacation or a promotion and leave dead bodies and suitcases for farmers to plow under. Or else as luck may have it, they are returned to their village in zinc coffins welded shut at the family's expense and guarded so that the ravaged bodies cannot be described. This is a world none of us wants to experience and we can be grateful that Herta Mueller has survived it to reveal what we never want to know for ourselves. She does so with an insight and poetic, surreal vision that is as memorable and chilling as a thunderstorm.
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on June 4, 2013
The opening sentences of Herta Muller's haunting novel, The Appointment, expresses what it must be like to live under an oppressive regime: "I have been summoned. At ten, sharp." The novel is about a tram ride taken by the unnamed narrator to her mandated appointment with the Securitate, Romania's secret police under the tyrannical dictator, Nicolae Ceuasescu, who ruled the country for twenty two years. Muller maps out life for the average Romanian citizen under Ceausescu rule, in a dysfunctional world turned upside down, where no one can be trusted. As the last sentence reinforces: "The trick is not to go mad."

As I began reading, I was totally absorbed in the novel. The plot line is not linear, but the narrative structure lent itself to conveying to the reader a sense of fear, disorientation, confusion, and instability. As I continued reading I found the work to become a little tedious. It is worth putting in the effort, however, as the unnamed narrator's musings about the people on the tram and her past and present life produces a rhythm that manifests the disorientation and uncertainty of a life lived under tyranny. Not to mention that the novel is beautifully written.
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on February 2, 2010
THe reviewer who said s/he didn't like Picasso and felt this book was Picasso-esque provided, I think, the most accurate and succinct description of this book. However, unlike the other reviewer, I enjoy Picasso's cubism and expressionistic figures, and I was moved by this book.

I found that it was important to read every word, because if I read to quickly and skipped over words and sometimes sentences, I missed important moments in the book. I had to re-read the last 5 pages to make sense of the ending. Reading every word of a novel can be taxing - and many novels don't warrant a close reading. But this one does.
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on October 27, 2015
I do not recommend buying this book under any circumstances. I kept thinking it had to get better but in the end it remained an utter disappointment. It was simply a compilation of ramblings strung together in non-sequiturs.
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on May 14, 2017
How can Americans really know how alien life was behind the iron curtain? How can we understand life in Russia or North Korea? Truly alien and on the same planet.
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on September 14, 2012
Durting the cold war many Russian dominated country were used as feeders. All their assets were made for the 'mother country'. This novel takes place during those times. The narrator is never identified other than female. We are taken through her life visually and are privy to her thoughts and perspective. We get to see how the paranoia during this period dictated thoughts and lives.
The narrator is summoned to appear before the an interragator due to a silly note she had slipped into a pair of pants while she worked at a clothing manufactor that sent their clothings to free countries. Her naivate is seen as a rebellion against the state. "Why would you want to leave your country?" is the question. She realizes that her life has been filled with lies to protect herself and maintain the party line.
The narrator leads us through the visual paranoia and demeaning behavior that comes from living in a country lacking in any mortal values. Her struggle is with finding her true self and hidding that self from others.
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on January 11, 2017
Absorbing, original journey through the mind of a victim of oppression, harassment, and hopelesness of her country
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on August 19, 2017
Great!
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on February 7, 2013
I found it difficult to figure what this was all about. It was recommended to me, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else to read. It was not entertaining, not historical. I guess I am looking for the purpose of the story and can't find one.
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