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The Land of Green Plums

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  4,616 ratings  ·  608 reviews
Set in Romania at the height of Nicolae Ceausescu's reign of terror, this haunting novel 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 and powerful look at a totalitarian state which comes to inhabit every aspect of life; to the extent that everyone, even the most s ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Granta Books (Uk) (first published 1994)
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Jim Fonseca
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another gem from the Nobel Prize-winning author (2009) of The Hunger Angel and The Appointment. She writes about life in Romania under the communist dictator Ceausescu (1965-1989). Muller grew up as a member of Romania’s large German minority and she writes in German.


A group of young people from impoverished rural backgrounds are thrown together in college dorms in the big city – the young women, six to a room. The oppression of the dictator is everywhere and talk of his health is constant. Rum
Ahmad Sharabiani
Herztier = The Land of Green Plums, Herta Müller

The Land of Green Plums is a novel by Herta Müller, published in 1994.

Perhaps Müller's best-known work, the story portrays four young people living in a totalitarian police state under the Soviet-imposed communist dictatorship in Romania, ending with their emigration to Germany.

The narrator is an unidentified young woman belonging to the ethnic German minority.

Müller said the novel was written "in memory of my Romanian friends who were killed un
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Herztier" who would like to Reading this book, should be aware that this is not an entertainment reading. Books about bad times are often rated differently. She tells her story in a highly poetic, very associative, but at the same time in a very robust language. This book leaves a mixed sense. In the shock of the narrated events the admiration for the literary achievement mingles. Especially the language enthusiastic, in which the female characters are described very sensitively. At the beginni ...more
Possesses a narrative patterning that is strikingly beautiful. There's compression, too, and suspense, though it's not a mystery or thriller. It's character driven so there's no real plot. Yet the vivid picture Herta Müller paints of Communist Romania under dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu is an absolute horror. I mean, the inanity of harassing perfectly harmless people and interrogating them and humiliating them for no purpose other than to instill fear and, thus, submission. Hannah Arendt's phrase " ...more
Steven Godin
It was all in their eyes, Romanian eyes, eyes of fear, eyes of suffering, eyes of sadness. Fast forward, 1989, December 25, how could I forget, Christmas day. Family, festive spirits, presents, death by firing squad, Nicolae Ceaușescu, wife Elena, two tickets, one way...Hell. "The Land of Green Plums" a moving account for a group of students trying to better themselves under Ceaușescu's reign of terror, living in a totalitarian state, that would effect every aspect day after day. Poverty stricke ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caterina by: Jim Fonseca
Everyone had a friend in every wisp of cloud
that’s how it is with friends where the world is full of fear
even my mother said, that’s how it is
friends are out of the question
think of more serious things.

Did you ever feel ashamed for taking pleasure in a book? The title “The Land of Green Plums” and even the cover illustration are (at first) dreamy. The prose is original, austere, and poetic — yet also somehow dreamy, surreal like a Russell Edson prose poem. The effect is a terror that sneaks up,
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When i started to read, i thought: "Oh no, stream-of-conscious-like, unconnected episodes in a weird language....", but as i progressed i slowly started to appreciate Müller's unusual language. The metaphors are strange, but are very expressive.They make you feel the opressive atmosphere in a totalitarian regime, one starts to feel persecuted by "harmless men with dogs" walking behind you, one can relate perfectly well to how the characters grow more and more hopeless and depressed despite of th ...more
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanian
There are (were) Germans in Romania? Swabians, I think they are called. I confess a gap here. I knew, of course, about Germans in Czechoslovakia. A convenient casus belli. But there was this community of Germans in Romania after one shuffling of nations. (Don't tell Adolf!)

Herta Müller was one of them. This work (maybe all her works, from what I've read) is semi-autobiographical. Her father had been a member of the Waffen SS during World War II, and earned a living as a truck driver in Communist
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: if only I had known what you already knew
Recommended to Mariel by: they can leave me for dead they can take away my truth
"Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to say openly how they feel in their hearts. Some people have to keep their hearts hidden." - Alfred Chester

A table and a chair now stood in the cube where Lola's bed had been. And on the table, a big preserving jar with long sprays from the scruffy park, dwarf white roses with delicately serrated leaves. The branches put down white roots in the water. The girls could walk and eat and sleep in the cube. They weren't afraid to sing in front of Lola's leave
Greg Brozeit
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
„Wenn wir schweigen, werden wir unangenehm, sagte Edgar, wenn wir reden, werden wir lächerlich.“

("When we’re silent, we become unpleasant, said Edgar, when we speak, we become laughable.")
I’m finally getting comfortable with Müller’s writing. It is like looking through a disorganized, virtual scrapbook filled with mementos, photos, and short snippets of grainy 8 mm films. The story doesn’t start taking shape until the reader thinks about what connects those mementos and pays as much attention to
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the Aira novel I just reviewed, I felt something lost in translation here. I picked up this novel after reading Jesse Ball's Curfew and seeing another critic on Goodreads claim that Land of Green Plums was a better entry in the genre. The genre, I guess, is that of Kafka-- absurdist fairy tales of life in a police state. It seems a little silly to rank Muller and Ball. The difference between them might be summed as the difference between a Central/Eastern European and an American sensibilit ...more
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
it seems to me that if you want or need to write about the intensely traumatic life of people under a brutal dictatorship, writing with the language of children is a good way to go.

i deduce from other things i've read by herta mūller (okay, basically only her nobel lecture, which i can't recommend highly enough), that this novel is autobiographical, and i find profoundly inspirational that she helped herself through the process of writing about her trauma by using great inventiveness of imagery
I wanted to like this book. I really did. With it being the spawn of a Nobel Laureate and a book that purposed to explore the human side-effects of dictatorial Romania, I was certain that this book would tickle my literary side while also indulging my inner humanitarian. But sadly, it didn't.

The biggest reason for it's failure? It simply was too confusing. I love the well-turned phrase as much as the next one, but when poetry and beauty starts to inhibit the progression of plot and understanding
'Herztier' (English title: The Land of Green Plums) is known to be one of the most accessible works of Müller. Nevertheless, it remains a really tough job to get through this book. First, there is no real story: the main character observes the world around her in regularly shifting situations; only after a while you see it's about a group of young people who are trying to survive in an impoverished country under a brutal dictatorship; the narrator records elements of deprivation and backwardness ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never read a novel of politics like The Land of Green Plums before and I'm happy that I read it and learn about a country that I've never come across with its literary world. Herta Müller won Nobel prize in literature in 2009.

The author uses so many signs in different ways to show the political and social dictatorship of the time communist reign (Nicolae Ceaușescu) in Romania. Sometimes it's surrealist, sometimes it is nonlinear and some other times it's a dark reality.
We don't read much a
Stephen Durrant
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
No one writes quite like Herta Müller. One reviewer has spoken of her "incantatory prose," which describes well the almost hypnotic rhythm of her sentences. Another characteristic of her writing is that she invariably describes things from I guess what I would say "the other way around." Often this involves an element of personification. A person does not carry a suitcase but the suitcase "stretches her arm." A woman bathed in light does not look up at the crucifix hanging on the dark wall, but ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pr
The Land of Green Plums is an overwhelming allegorical saga of Banat Swabians (German minority populace) inhabiting in Romania, who lived under constant scrutiny and fear after WWII; especially throughout vigilant torment of Nicolae Ceaușescu(1965-1989).

** Whatever you carry out of your province, you carry out in your face.

** When we don’t speak, said Edgar, we become unbearable and when we do, we make fools of ourselves.

Muller delineates the story of barren lands, mournful eyes, optimistic hear
Jennifer (aka EM)
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: prosetry
Gorgeous prose poem about living (and dying) under an oppressive dictatorship, but ultimately - despite the beauty and interesting resonances of the imagery, which you almost had to feel rather than read - it felt to me distancing and slightly impenetrable. For something similar, my tastes run more to The Vagrants - much more difficult and horrific, but somehow more suited to the subject matter. ...more
I’d not intended to read this book. When Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize for literature last year, I shrugged and went on with my life. My mother picked this up, found it dull, and passed it on to me without much encouragement.

This book was strong on neither plot nor character and yet it was a marvelous book.

The plot is straight-forward: Romania under dictatorship, its citizens making themselves into “tin sheep” and calling it “metallurgy,” working then drinking in bodegas like “refugees from
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From My Blog...

Rich, symbolic and full of lyrical prose, The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller takes the reader to Romania and through the oppression suffered by the people under Ceausescu’s totalitarian regime. The narrator does not tell the story in a linear pattern, rather in bits and pieces that become interwoven to bring forth a masterful tapestry, rich, deep, and dark. The reader learns about Lola and the days leading up to her apparent suicide, which is what brings the narrator together
The Land of Green Plums, first published in English in 1996 by Metropolitan Books, and reissued in 1998 by Northwestern, is one of the greatest books on dictatorship I have ever read. It is also one of the most authentic books. What do I mean by that? This book being inspired by the author’s personal trauma, it would have been easy for it to fall into the confessions-of-a-victim mood that characterizes a certain kind of literature today. But Herta Müller’s style couldn’t be more different. Her p ...more
Rahil Zabihi
This book is weird and gloomy. Its bitterness wounds my heart. Müller's stream of consciousness was so strong that it stunned me. ...more

Originally posted here.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't plan on reading this book. In fact, I didn't know that this book even existed until  I bought a copy intended as a gift for my favorite reading Buddy, Angus, for Christmas last year. Unfortunately - or fortunately? - he got the book during our kris kringle, which meant I had to give him Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red instead - my back-up gift - and I get to keep this Müller novel myself.

And then we agreed to buddy-read it for May, which I tru
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
a book that experiments with the language, how break n discords form part of the language of a subject ( Agamben, bare body), tortured by sovereignty. the book is brilliant in depicting oppression, totalitarianism, and the perishing of people. depicting communist dictatorship under Ceausescu, with autobiographical elements, the book is a haunting read. notable is on the other hand, the lack of empathy for the Holocaust, the absence of a prominent Jew subject, that makes the book slightly antisem ...more
Abbie | ab_reads
3.5 stars - the writing and translation were too beautiful for me to give it a Goodreads 3, but I wish I had done some research into the period before reading, as I spent quite a bit of time being confused. But a harrowing, poetic read!
I would give a better rating if I could get a better translation of this book. The Portuguese one is quite unbearable!
Dec 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-winners
It was Christmas Day, 1989; our gift from the wealthy sister-in-law was a trip to Puerto Rico. I had one semester of grad school to go; the draft of my written thesis had been turned in and only the design portion and editing remained. We left Cincinnati and it was below 0° F, for Chicago, with a connection to Newark, with the final leg to San Juan. Naturally, there was a delay in Chicago; we watched with rapt attention CNN on the airport television screens—there were two main stories that day, ...more
A land of no hope, in a book outside of time. The narrator and her three male friends, all quiet rebels in an oppressed post-war Romania, think their thoughts of freedom and wait with a sickening dread to be punished for them, despite doing little more than writing poetry and planning to emigrate. Muller makes a point of showing just how fragile human connections are in a society based on fear. She lives with various nice women, has a supportive mother, and holds onto her close friendship with T ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanian
If you merely dip your toe in this novel, you will likely decide the temperature is too cold. I recommend a big leap in, and trust the prose to float you to the surface and, in time, regulate your heartbeat. You will find a very moving, personal, tragic story, not comfortable, but a place you'll recognize in your own heart, if you've ever felt loss, suspicion, alienation. The prose are not consistently great, but what is great is powerful. ...more
Someone laughed out loud. Someone put her hand to her mouth and stared. Someone began to cry. I no longer remember which one was me. p19

The distrust caused anything close to me to slide away. p131

It is this dissolution, this sliding away, that defines the displacement of human values that totalitarian regimes perpetuate. There is no arena left unscathed. In tersely lyrical, sparse and glittering prose, Herta Muller writes not as an outside observer but from experience.

We laughed a lot, to hide i
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Goodreads Librari...: Nobel Prize for Literature not attributed to book 2 45 May 01, 2012 03:36PM  

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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

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“Women always need other women to lean on. They become friends in order to hate each other better. The more they hate each other, the more inseparable they become.” 49 likes
“When we don't speak, said Edgar, we become unbearable, and when we do, we make fools of ourselves.” 44 likes
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