The Appointment by Herta Müller
Original title – Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet
Translator – Michael Hulse and Phillip Boehm
Source – Library copy
He’s shining brightly, he can’t be a man
He is the genius of the Carpathians
He’s running checks on his mother’s womb
He’s gonna be reborn real soon
Ciao, Ceaucescu! Ciao, Ceaucescu! Ciao, Ceaucescu!
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!
Blues for Ceausescu from the irish band Fatima Mansion source
Now I missed this off the end of my women in translation selection,which was a shame as it is one from one of my favourite female writers Herta Müller ,the German nobel prize-winning writer ,she grew up in Ceausescu Romania ,most of her books revolve around that regime and time .I have reviewed Nadirs ,The passport and Hunger angel before on the blog .Her books are always richly textured .
I’ve been summoned .Thursday at ten sharp .
Lately I’m being summoned more and more often ten sharp on Tuesdays ,ten sharp on Saturday ,on Wednesday ,Monday .As if years were a weak ,I’m amazed that winter comes so close on the heels late summer .
The opening lines as she catches the tram to another appointment .
Now appointment is classic Herta Müller ,we follow a young women who works as a seamstress ,she is on a tram to an Appointment to see the secret police about an integration .She has done this a number of times before as she remembers the times before she has been to this same place ,also her family and friends .Her rural up bringing ,her childhood crush on her father ,to moving to the city .Along the way we see her friends and family all affect by the strict Ceausescu regime ,some have died some are badly damaged and every one is affect .So why has she been called into see them this time ,she has sneakily been sowing secret messages in the linings of suit she has been working on ,these messages are marriage proposals for any Italian male that might happen to feel them in the suit and find it and her give her and escape from all this .Does she turn up for this appointment today .
For a whole week ,when summer came and people began running around in short shelves ,Paul and I were suspicious of a man who to this day walks over from the shops every morning at ten to eight ,empty-handed .
You end up trusting no one in a regime like this .
Now this book is rather like Kafka as we never fully know where or what the name even is off this unknown young women .In the tradition of Kafka there is a large feeling of menace in this book and being under the thumb but never quite sure why .The young womans previous visits to see the interrogators ,she has been so much she is even given a kiss on the hand when she arrives one time by one of the ,very sinister and creepy .The book is like her other books rich in the detail of everyday life the world jumps of the pages ,the secret sewing she does ,the friends family she has lost her previous visits all bring the brutal communist Romanian regime to life ,what is it like living under a totalitarian regime where you trust no one and have no idea what tomorrow will bring for you ,The original German title which basically translates as “Today I would prefer not to met ” says something more than the uk title ,which I felt it has been given to give a Kafka feel to the book as his novel titles were also short and ambiguous .I ‘ve just land of green plums left to read of her books already translated ,so lets hope she has some more published in English translation soon .Have you read Herta Müller ?