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Set in Romania at the height of Ceausescu's reign of terror, "The Land of Green Plums" tells the story of a group of young students, each of whom has left the impoverished provinces in search of better prospects in the city. It is a profound illustration of a totalitarian state which comes to inhabit every aspect of life; to the extent that everyone, event the strongest, must either bend to the oppressors, or resist them and perish.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781862072602
ISBN-10: 1862072604
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 19mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Granta Books
Publisher: Granta Books
Publish Date: 3-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Set in Romania during the Ceaucescu regime, Muller's troubling, fragmented novel tells the story of a group of students who have left their provincial villages in order to make a new life in the city, and are struggling to maintain some semblance of normality in the nightmarish climate of fear and suspicion which surrounds them. Muller's book is elliptical, heavily symbolic and often rather impenetrable. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Young lives of quiet desperation under dictator Ceau??escu are the poignant focus of Kleist Prize - winner Muller's third novel but her first to be translated into English. Systematic oppression snuffs first the spirit, then the existence, of those few young Romanians brave enough to dare to think independently. Sharing a college dorm room in the city with Lois and four other women, the narrator inhabits a Big Brother - like world where loudspeakers blare proletarian music all day, where a longing for privacy is suspect, and personal belongings are regularly searched. Lola, a girl from the provinces, has adjusted to the awful poverty of student life. She joins the Communist Party to gain some small status. She exchanges sex for food to supplement her pinched diet. And she keeps a journal of surrealist observations to lift her spirits. But none of it helps: She eventually hangs herself. Shaken, the narrator befriends a trio of male students, Georg, Edgar, and Kurt, discovering in them a questioning, restless spirit much like her own. Together, they walk, talk, read forbidden books, and ultimately are brought in for police interrogation and intimidation. Graduation throws them back among the masses in the working world, but they stay in touch by letters and visits in spite of ongoing state harassment. When all but one of them lose their jobs, however, the pressure becomes unbearable: Georg, beaten by thugs and deeply depressed, is allowed to emigrate to Germany, where he jumps (or is pushed) to his death from a window in Frankfurt; Edgar, the narrator, and the narrator's mother are also permitted to depart, leaving Kurt, still employed, behind. He soon finds his own release, at the end of a rope. Not a pretty picture by any means, but, still, a powerful, affecting story - one that makes clear the real value of small triumphs and fleeting moments of happiness when they occur in the context of deprivation and incalculable loss. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Herta Muller

Born in Romania in 1953, Herta Muller lost her job as a teacher and suffered repeated threats after refusing to cooperate with Ceausescu's Secret Police. She succeeded in emigrating in 1987 and now lives in Berlin. A renowned novelist, poet and essayist, Muller won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009.

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