Book Spotlight @ReadNobels: The Passport by Herta Müller

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I'm hosting the first ever Read the Nobels 2016 Reading Challenge. You can join in any time of the year and all it takes is to read one book written by a Nobel Prize for Literature laureate. You can sign up HERE. This is part of a bigger, perpetual challenge. If you'd like to get more Nobel Prize winning literature in your TBRs in your lifetime, check out the Read the Nobels blog.

Every few weeks, I feature a book and/or a Nobel Prize for Literature Laureate. Here's our second installment, a book which has been reviewed thrice on the Read the Nobels blog:

The Passport by Herta Müller 

Herta MüllerThe Nobel Prize in Literature 2009 (Romanian, German)...
"who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed" (

Synopsis of The Passport by Herta Müller'Just as the father in the house in which we live is our father, so Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu is the father of our country. And just as the mother in the house in which we live is our mother, so Comrade Elena Ceausescu is the mother of our country. Comrade Nicolae Ceasescu is the father of our children. All the children love comrade Nicolae and comrade Elena, because they are their parents.' The Passport is a beautiful, haunting novel whose subject is a German village in Romania caught between the stifling hopelessness of Ceaucescu's dictatorship and the glittering temptations of the West. Stories from the past are woven together with the problems Windisch, the village miller, faces after he applies for permission to migrate to West Germany. Herta Muller describes with poetic attention the dreams and superstitions, conflicts and oppression of a forgotten region, the Banat, in the Danube Plain. In sparse, poetic language, Herta Muller captures the forlorn plight of a trapped people.

Review snippets from Read the Nobels 

Don't forget to check out the links for full reviews:

The Passport is the first and only book of Herta Müller that I know so far. I enjoyed the read because it makes me think about power and its abuse, but also about the absurdity of certain aspects of life and superstition. It’s not very likely that I’ll ever become this writer’s biggest fan, and yet, I’m more than ready to recommend this novella. - Edith, Edith's Miscellany

Tibor Fischer at the Guardian on behalf of the UK was so unimpressed that he misrepresented the plot with a reductive summary: "The Passport is a 90-page novel about a miller, Windisch, a Swab, or ethnic German, who applies for a passport to leave Romania. That’s all in the way of plot or narrative impetus."  Well no, it’s not just about that, Mr Fischer. Not even at literal level. Even the dopiest reader will soon figure out that there’s more to the plot than that. - Lisa Hill, ANZ Lit Lovers

The Passport is a dark, symbolic novella by 2009 Nobel Prize winner Herta Muller. Do not let its lean size fool you – it is neither an easy read, nor a quick one. Muller writes in what can only be called poetic prose. The novella is dense with symbolism. Stark and at times shocking, the language of the book is almost a puzzle to be teased out and contemplated. - Wendy, Caribou's Mom

Find out more about Herta Müller:

Other books by Herta Müller :

Author photo - Ave Maria Mõistlik (File:Müller, Herta.IMG 9379.JPG) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall