The-Land-of-Green-Plums
1998 Winner

The Land of Green Plums

Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

The novel brilliantly evokes a world of cruelty and oppression. Set in Communist Romania under the Ceaucescu dictatorship, The Land of Green Plums portrays the lives of a group of dissident students and teachers whose integrity is continuously assailed and sometimes betrayed. Herta Müller’s stark and vivid prose explores a terror-stricken society of mendacity and political slander. The “green plums” of the title stand in part for truth and its brutal suppression in a world of interrogators and informers, where speaking out can become a matter of life and death.

The author’s style, achieves a spartan eloquence, and the novel’s individual charaters are powerfully drawn.

This elegantly understated book is at once bleak and beautiful, humorous and heartbreaking. The judges congratulate Herta Müller for her compelling literary achievement in The Land of Green Plums.

Set in Romania at the height of Ceauescu’s reign of terror, The Land of Green Plums tells the story of a group of young people who leave the impoverished province for the city in search of better prospects and camaraderie. But their hopes are ravaged, because the city, no less than the countryside, bears everywhere the mark of the dictatorship’s corrosive touch. All the narrator’s friends—teachers and students of vaguely dissident allegiance—betray her, do away with themselves, or both. As they do so, we see the way the totalitarian state comes to inhabit every human realm and how everyone, even the strongest, must either bend to the oppressors or resist them and thereby perish.

Herta Müller, herself a survivor of Ceausescu’s police state, speaks from intimate experience. Scene by scene, in language at once harsh and poetic, she constructs a devastating picture of a society and a generation ruined by fear. In simple images of hieroglyphic power—policeman filling their pockets and mouths with green plums; girls sleeping with abattoir workers for bags of offal; a docile proletariat making things no one wants—”tin sheep and wooden watermelons”—Müller anatomizes a country and its citizens and the corruption that has rotted the core of both.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Herta
Müller

Herta Müller is the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as the 1998 International Dublin Literary Award and the European Literature Prize. She is the author of, among other books, The Hunger Angel and The Land of Green Plums. Born in Romania in 1953, Müller 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.

Herta Müller is the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as the 1998 International Dublin Literary Award and the European Literature Prize. She is the author of, among other books, The Hunger Angel and The Land of Green Plums. Born in Romania in 1953, Müller 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.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Michael
Hofmann

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
01/01/1994
Country
Germany, Romania
Original Language
German
Author
Publisher
Henry Holt
Translator
Michael Hofmann
Translation
Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann

RELATED FEATURES

News March 25 2024

Discover the 2024 Dublin Literary Award Shortlist

Discover which 6 books made it to the shortlist, one of world’s most valuable literary prizes!
News January 16 2024

2024 Longlist Revealed

Novels by four Irish authors are among the 70 books nominated by 80 libraries around the world!
News November 28 2023

2024 Dublin Literary Award Judges Announced

Meet our judging panel for 2024 Dublin Literary Award
Video June 2 2023

Highlights from the 2023 Dublin Literary Award Ceremony

Katja Oskamp and translator Jo Heinrich win the prize for Marzahn, Mon Amour.

STAY CONNECTED

Stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates on the Dublin Literary Award.