The English translation is by Philip Boehm It is a depiction of the persecution of ethnic Germans in Romania by the Stalinist regime of the Soviet Union , and deals with the deportation of Romanian Germans to the Soviet Union for forced labour by Soviet occupying forces during and after The novel tells the story of a youth from Sibiu in Transylvania , Leo Auberg, who is deported at the age of 17 to a Soviet forced labor concentration camp in Nowo-Gorlowka Novogorlovka , Ukraine , now incorporated in Gorlovka and spends five years of his life there. It is inspired by the experiences of poet Oskar Pastior and other survivors, including the mother of the author. The title comes from a compound word "Hungerengel" coined by Pastior to describe the pervasive hunger that dominated his prison experience in the Donets Basin as war reparations slave labor. The fierce hunger was also an angel that kept him alive during the ordeal.
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She was born in Romania, part of the German minority settled in the 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. 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 that 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 Plums , Georg throws himself from the high window of a transit hostel, six weeks after emigrating from Romania to Frankfurt. 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 its 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 may be at home again, but within him the camp "stretches on and on, bigger and bigger, from my left temple to my right". Fiction reviews. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller – review
Don't have an account? This chapter argues that Atemschaukel should be read as world literature alongside works of other writers, such as Primo Levi, which bear witness to the great crimes of the twentieth century. Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter. Please, subscribe or login to access full text content. To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.
Return from the Archipelago: Herta Müller's Atemschaukel as Soft Memory
She was born in Romania, part of the German minority settled in the 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.
Rezension "Atemschaukel" - Das Lager ist eine praktische Welt