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The Appointment

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  2,718 ratings  ·  403 reviews
From the winner of the IMPAC Award and the Nobel Prize, a fierce novel about a young Romanian woman's discovery of betrayal in the most intimate reaches of her life

"I've been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp." Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 13th 2001 by Metropolitan Books (first published 1997)
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3.40  · 
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 ·  2,718 ratings  ·  403 reviews

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Lynne King
When I finally finished this remarkable work, my mind flashed back, for some obscure reason to my early twenties (such exciting years) when I loved a man, a cat and a book. Life, of course, has to develop and move on; I lost the man (our lives were taking different directions), Sylvie died in quarantine but my magnificent book was and still remains with me: the “Alexandria Quartet” by Lawrence Durrell. I’ve tried many times to write an account on why this book has had, and still continues to hav ...more
Steven Godin
This is the second time that I've struggled with a Herta Müller novel, the second one to leave me feeling cold and not exactly in the greatest of moods, but given the subject matter it's not surprising really. Her narrative didn't fill me with much enthusiasm, and yet, some of her sentences really were quite striking. They stood out ripe in a bowl of decaying fruit.

The Appointment takes a bleak and circuitous route through Bucharest on a rickety old tram that seems to take an eternity to reach i
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Appointment is about life in Nicolae Ceauşescu’s communist Romania. What a simultaneously sinister and banal place. The mind won’t absorb it. The novel is in every sense a dystopia. Only in this case it happens not to be an SF fantasy but based on 20th century events. Seemingly without effort, Herta Müller shows us the utter self-defeating nature of police states, their inefficiency, rotten core, bankrupt ideology, and doomed future.

Its narrative line is elliptical. It has been written in a
Jim Fonseca
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The heroine of this novel lives her life waiting. She is a seamstress in a Romanian factory making fine men's overcoats for export to Italy. She is so desperate for escape from her pointless life that she inserts notes saying "Marry Me," with her name and address, into the linings of the coats. She has a live-in male friend who spends all of his time and most of her money drinking the day away. There is no future here - it's more like maintaining a big dog and having the expense that goes with i ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There is a shocking matter of factness in the voice addressing to the readers of this book. Belonging to the female character in the center of the story, it weaves the narration by adding together episodes full of horror from a past under communism (her grandmother's death, her father's adultery, her father-in-law's acts of violence, Lilli's sexual misbehavior and death), details regarding a present ride by tram to the police office for interrogations and random descriptions of objects.

How is it
Everything happened in a twinkling, the time it takes for one person to assault another.
Müller's Nobel Prize speech is transcribed at the end of this edition, a bonus the cover did not hint at that other editions could learn from, and among other thought provoking paragraphs was her probing the susceptibility of engineers and the like to making homunculi out of their creations. I already knew a number of beautiful words having to do with lubricated hydraulic machine parts: DOVETAIL, GOOSENECK,
João Reis
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4,5 stars, but taking into account my mental state in the last months, it surely deserves being rounded up to 5. Müller mixes present and past throughout the whole book and manages to get it superbly done, never sounding pretentious or false, and meanwhile tells some pretty good stories from Communist Romania.
Owlseyes inside Notre Dame, it's so strange a 15-hour blaze and...30-minutes wait to call the firemen...and
This is certainly autobiographical: at least in regard to the interrogations part. Herta was in fact interrogated while living in Romania, under Ceausescu.

This is the daily (grim and perceptive) description of a woman’s life; her apprehension facing the interrogations.

She’s a factory worker. During her first marriage (while husband was at the military service) she recalls she escaped home and went to the mountains (Carpatos mountains) with conservatory finalists; she saw a frozen lake and cr
Apr 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Apparently I'm compelled to re-read this after finishing it - both to savor the writing, and to see how the author built this story to its chilling end. Meant to just go back and leaf through the beginning, to see where she planted various seeds and follow a thread or two, but this book is meant for serious enjoyment so here I go again.

The setting is a factory town under the thumb of communist tyranny. Our heroine has been summoned (repeatedly) to an appointment with the authorities to explain h
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nobel-winners
A beautifully crafted book, so subtle in its manipulation of the reader, in the quiet exposition of terror. During the course of a morning tram ride to an "appointment" with her "Major"—her interogator with the secret police, presumably the Departamentul Securităţii Statului—our un-named narrator reflects on the course of her life which lead to this particular point in time. While all the specifics of time and place are unannounced, anyone familiar with Herta Müller's personal history will recog ...more
I’ve been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp.

So begins Herta Mueller’s novel of one woman’s life in Romania under the reign of Nicolae Ceauşescu, and we soon learn that this is not the first time our unnamed narrator has been summoned to the office of a man known only as Major Albu for the purpose of interrogation. This isn’t the first time, but for some reason, our narrator believes this interrogation will be worse than any of the interrogations that have gone before.

And what is our narrator’s crime
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Though this is not one of my favourite books by Herta Müller, I still recommend it. It is representative for her style, which I personally find breathtaking. It is strong and sharp, expressing sadness, frustration and even a kind of guilt of living within an oppressive regime, like that one of Ceausescu. A regime that forced people to become cowards and to renounce their humanity; and those who cared about their conscience remained alone, very alone, isolated, unable to rely on somebody or somet ...more
Stephanie Sun
"You don't have to be particularly bad off to think: This can't be all the life I get."

Due to Müller's own history I'd expected the big reveal to be some betrayal of Lilli's, so I'm still reeling from that ending.

The Appointment is two hundred fourteen pages of 100 proof claustrophobic terror, in which even the consolations of poetry, sex, love, and nature are laced through with a melancholy so total that if you have any unquestioned assumptions about the basis of your own consolations, expect t
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A study of a society corrupted by totalitarianism. Everyone compromises and is compromised. A woman is on the way to an appointment with a secret policeman. On the tram journey she reflects on her path thus far, petty humiliations, disappointment and disillusionment. At journeys end comes the ultimate betrayal.

A deceptive book, it's seemingly gentle tone gradually immerses you in the grotesqueness of life in Romania under Ceausescu
Janet Leszl
Jun 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
I had to force myself to keep reading this one. I’m sorry to say this was one of my least favorite books. The lack of separation into chapters or very clear breaks as the author continually jumped all over the place was frustrating. There were so many endless side tangents that had tangents running away from them as well. Often I had to question what the point behind them was. At times she revealed elements of living under the repressive authorities, but it took a long and jumpy ride to get ther ...more
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
A strange novel of romanian oppression at the time of Ceaucescu. It is a very unsettling read, you can't really settle down in to normal expectations and maybe that is Muller's intention. You struggle with the heroine as she suffers continual persecution by the police authorities but it is written cleverly. She journeys towards her next appointment and this journey is punctuated by flashbacks building up a clearer and clearer picture of her past and its implications. I was confused by the ending ...more
3 stars, or 6/10, I liked it

A difficult book to read and follow. Essentially a continuous stream of consciousness with no chapters and minimal punctuation. The unnamed protagonist, a young woman in an unnamed Eastern European communist country which from oblique references to time and neighbouring countries (and the knowledge of the author's background from the back cover blurb) turns out to be Romania in the 1970s (or 80s) under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, muses on her life while on
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
From My Blog...[return][return]The Appointment by Herta Müller is an absolute masterpiece of literature. The narrator is on a tram, once again heading to face another interrogation by Ceausescu’s secret police, and while she heads to this appointment she recounts various moments in her life, allowing the reader an inside look into another world, one that is difficult to imagine, yet Müller’s descriptions are spot on. With breath-taking beauty, Müller details with precision the simple, the mundan ...more
Müller remains very unruly to me, even in this second work I've read by her, and that is a bit more accessible than ‘Herztier’. Again there is that same threatening atmosphere that hangs over all sentences. Starting with the opening sentence "I am summoned, Thursday at 10 am exactly", it is difficult to be more kafkaesque. What follows is the story of a woman (without name) traveling by tramway to the place where she will be questioned for the umpteenth time. En route she muses in a chaotic jumb ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Herta Muller is the most recent author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature-- since I generally enjoy works by Nobel Prize winners, I bought this book.

I must say, I was somewhat disappointed. The book's style is somewhat stream-of-consciousness-- we follow the main character, who is a resident of communist Romania and is periodically interrogated regarding an incident from years ago in which she slipped notes into the pockets of the jackets she manufactured reading "Please marry me". In the boo
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far I don't find this as absorbing a book as the Land of Green Plums, the first HM book I'd read, ten or more years ago... as an icy plunge into life under one of the worst of the Eastern Bloc regimes, Ceausescu's Romania... this one is emotionally drier, the flatness of life where you're the only one who cares about your own life and sometimes not even that. Where great loves and friendships must be kept at arm's length in the the heart so not to rip you to shreds when they are endangered or ...more
one of the most powerful books I've read in a long time - I actually started this book a while ago when the Nobel prize for the author was recent but the English language edition did not quite work for me; however I just got the Romanian translation and the book came to life from the first page and I couldn't stop reading it after - short but very dense as it's a continual interior monologue that goes back and forth through times and events; the only thing (to the blurb and many reviews from the ...more
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really pretty amazing book, and one that is sort of different than it's description-- there's none of the rompiness you'd expect from a book about a woman who randomly solicits italian men to marry her and save her from Communist Romania. I'm not saying that doesn't happen, though I think that's misrepresented, just that it's not at the core of the book.

What is at the heart of the book, I think, is the relationship between our narrator, the woman who has in the past sent these notes abroad, an
An unnamed narrator travels in a tram on her way to yet another interview with a Major from Ceauşescu’s secret police. During the journey she recounts previous interviews, her family life, her friend Lila, her two husbands, workmates and people who live in her apartment block.

For a while the story and writing captivated me. But it just did not lead anywhere, not even to the interview. Maybe this was all part of the theme of the failure of police states, empty banal lives, corruptness and hopeles
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
The fact that I grew up in communist Romania has a lot to do with how much I disliked this book. I don't think I would have loved the stilted style in any case, because I generally tend to find internal monologue narratives irritating. It's pretty hard to get that kind of voice to sound both plausible and engaging. But she won the Nobel Prize so I was cautiously optimistic, even though the year was 2009 and Obama got one just for showing up. (As an aside, the Swedish Academy rejected the likes o ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
I think I realized, while reading this, what my approach needs to be towards stream-of-consciousness novels. I need to break myself of my feeling that every word matters in these kinds of books. When I'm reading more traditional novels or non-fiction books, every word does matter, pretty much, so when I find myself confused, I always go back and read things over until I have a better understanding of what is happening. But the only reason this works is because the author intended every part of t ...more
Lee Gingras
Dec 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
Well, this is awkward. I think I was really supposed to like this book. I honestly did want to like this book. This is the kind of book a Good Person would like I wanted so much to like this book that I initially gave it two stars.

But, well, I took that second star away. It was so completely flat, and the main character so intangible, and the plot so meandering and subtle that I had to force myself to finish it. There were numerous things in the plot that just didn't add up, and when I got to t
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will haunt me. I picked it shortly after HM won the Nobel, because I’d never even heard of her, let alone read anything by her. The Appointment starts out with a young woman summoned to an appointment with the Romanian secret police. We soon learn this is the latest in a long series of these appointments, and this time she’s packed her toothbrush and towel. She leaves so early there is no possibility of her being late, and as we follow her on her way she muses about the past— ...more
Feb 26, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A novel with an intriguing story about interpersonal relationships in a totalitarian state, at least that's what the dusk jacket implied. For me, this was a dull stream of consciousness that occasionally had brilliant metaphors and insights. Herta Muller received a Nobel Prize for her works, but this one (granted the only work I have read by her) left me sorely disappointed. Well, I was vacationing in Brazil when I read it. However, it wasn't the depressing subject matter that turned me off, but ...more
Katie Long
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult one to describe. On its face, it’s a woman on her way to a sinister appointment who is reminiscing on everything that brought her to this point. It is filled with absurdity, banality, humor (both dark and silly), and even love, but it is the, ever present, undercurrent of sadness and fear, that you know can pull you under at any point (and often does so sharply) that makes this so powerful and unforgettable.
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Did I miss the ending? 1 50 Aug 31, 2010 09:04PM  

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Herta 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
“Everyday brought me further away from other people, I had been placed out of the world's sight, as if in a cupboard, and I hoped it would stay that way. I developed a yearning for being alone, unkempt, untended.” 22 likes
“Hey, not while I'm at my devotions, no so fast, the fat man said, inside the shithouse you're communing with God, and outside you find that all hell's broken loose.” 5 likes
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