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Book Title: Čovek je veliki fazan na ovom svetu|
The author of the book: Herta Müller
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Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 7.8
The size of the: 35.87 MB
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Date of issue: 2011
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A short little book, made up of short little sentences, which gather in tiny chapters. I found the effect mesmerising. Glancing at other reviews opinions are divided.
The English translation of the title as The Passport gives the game away. A German family in Romania in the Ceaucescu era - the internet says the 80s, my ability to read the evidence from the material culture mentioned in the novel is not so sharp, since the lead character was in the USSR during WWII, the 80s seems a little late to me, anyway that's the context, the story is they have applied for passports to get out and resettle in West Germany, perhaps it is better to say that this process is uncertain due to the context and one has to sacrifice a lot to get the object of desire. This contrasted with the mother struggling to survive in the USSR after WWII, trading her clothes for food as she struggles to survive the snows and hunger, then she trades herself, but eventually survives. The novel is built up out of such stories which mirror each other building into a mosaic. We see the daughter of the family teaching in a kindergarten. The microcosm is a miniaturisation of the macrocosm. Romania is an assembly of households, as the father and mother are to the household so are the Ceaucesus to the nation. Given what the family go through and their sacrifices this is quite an indictment of the society.
The title comes from early in the book when the main character - a miller - is having a conversation with the nightwatchman which consists chiefly of proverbs. It is a book easy to imagine as a film of the late 1980s, shot in black and white, with no musical sound track, just odd images and natural sounds which have an unsettling effect. The villagers are concerned. The old owl has died and has been replaced by a younger one - as you know an owl will settle on the roof of a person who is about to die, but because the owl is new to the village and doesn't know anybody, it will settle on the wrong roofs and cause the premature deaths of young people - owl conservancy, you see, is a complex business.
We are told that before the war, the villagers prepared for the King to pass through their station. The brass band is ready, a girl has a poem to declaim. The train draws into the station, a flunky tells them that the King sleeps. The train departs.
West Germany is no new Eden either, the miller reads letters from a man who has already emigrated and lives in Munich - his wife, he writes, has to slaughter the chicken for the landlady, and in Munich they don't keep the blood and the giblets are just thrown away! The worse of 'our' women are better than the best of 'their' women. In Bavaria The wife has a 'good' job in a care home, by implication the letter writer does not. Leaving, I suppose does not guarantee arrival. As Ceaucesu is to the nation so must be the father to the household.
Symbol after symbol. The war memorial overgrown with roses. So overgrown that the life is even choked out of the grass. The carpenter expects daily the death of his mother. In readiness, the coffin lid rests against the oven. The church is locked while the Priest exercises non-celibacy on any woman who comes within reach. The reader feels death in the air, thick on the pages. Of individuals of a community, of a country?
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Read information about the authorHerta Müller was born in Niţchidorf, Timiş County, Romania, the daughter of Swabian farmers. Her family was part of Romania's German minority and her mother was deported to a labour camp in the Soviet Union after World War II.
She read German studies and Romanian literature at Timişoara University. In 1976, Müller began working as a translator for an engineering company, but in 1979 was dismissed for her refusal to cooperate with the Securitate, the Communist regime's secret police. Initially, she made a living by teaching kindergarten and giving private German lessons.
Her first book was published in Romania (in German) in 1982, and appeared only in a censored version, as with most publications of the time.
In 1987, Müller left for Germany with her husband, novelist Richard Wagner. Over the following years she received many lectureships at universities in Germany and abroad.
In 1995 Müller was awarded membership to the German Academy for Writing and Poetry, and other positions followed. In 1997 she withdrew from the PEN centre of Germany in protest of its merge with the former German Democratic Republic branch.
The Swedish Academy awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature to Müller, "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed".
She currently lives in Berlin, Germany.
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