Aug. Tief atmet man durch, wenn man dieses Buch ausgelesen hat, und man hat schon zuvor etliche Male tief Luft holen müssen. “Atemschaukel” ist. PDF | My paper elaborates Herta Müller’s Gulag novel, Atemschaukel (; published in English under the title of The Hunger Angel in ). Herta Müllers Atemschaukel ist ein Ereignis. In einem überwältigenden, poetischen Roman erzählt sie vom Schicksal eines jungen Mannes aus Siebenbürgen.
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She was born in Romania, part of the German minority settled in hertq Banat region since the 18th century, and the history of her immediate family reflects the turmoils of war and displacement. Like many other Banat Swabians, her father volunteered for the Waffen SS during the second world war.
Her mother, like thousands of other ethnic Germans between the ages of 17 and 45, was deported to a forced-labour camp in the Soviet Union after the war. She spent five years there. Her imagery is startlingly distinct and yet nightmarish. Behind every familiar object — a plum, a key, a rope, a single hair — there is, as in a fairytale, a hinterland full of shadows and silence.
The weight of what cannot be said drags at the narrative line. The Hunger Angel shares this poetic intensity of focus, shape-shifting language, and a structure of brief chapters that talk to one another indirectly.
This hidden rustle of conversation between fragments slowly reveals the enormity of the whole.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller – review
When deported Germans returned to their homes, the political climate meant that their story had to be whispered, if told at all. The novel is narrated in the voice of Leo Auberg, a year-old who is just discovering his sexuality as something “strange, filthy, shameless and beautiful”.
Leo’s encounters with men in park pavilions and in the Neptune Baths would land him in prison or a penal colony if he were caught. Instead, because of his German ethnicity, his name is on a list anyway, and he is to be deported to a forced-labour camp. The boy makes a suitcase out of a gramophone case, and fills it with Faust, a volume of poetry, aftershave, socks, a burgundy silk scarf … Every item is scrupulously detailed.
What Leo’s grandmother gives him are five words: Ich weiss, du kommst wieder — “I know you’ll come back. To be a survivor, however, is a complex and sometimes terrible thing. Leo has been given over to a world mllr those who remained behind cannot guess at, and neither can they realise his anguish, disconnection and rage when he returns home five years later.
In The Land of Green PlumsGeorg throws himself from the high window of a transit hostel, six weeks after emigrating from Romania to Stemschaukel.
Atemschaukel by Herta Müller (1 star ratings)
Or perhaps he is pushed. He is not free, and he knows it. The telling of his tale in all its intricate and wretched detail is perhaps the only thing that animates him. Her portrait of Kati Sentry, “born feebleminded” and with the stature of a child, is overwhelming in herha haunting power.
Kati is in the camp because someone has substituted her name for another’s on the list, or perhaps out of simple sadism. She cannot labour, or understand “what a quota is, or a command, or a punishment”. Instead, she flutters her arms and coos like a dove, or sits on an anthill to make herself gloves out of ants.
Crucially, the hunger angel cannot climb into Kati’s brain and destroy it, because she is already in another world. This is a remarkable novel, both bleak and chastening. Leo mllet be at home again, but within him the camp “stretches on and on, bigger and bigger, from my left temple to my right”.
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