Monique's Reviews > The Land of Green Plums

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller
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's review
Dec 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, award-winners, buddy-read, biography, historical-fiction, translated, impac-dublin, nobel-laureate

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 truly, immensely enjoyed.

The Land of Green Plums is no easy novel to read, admittedly. First few pages in, and I shaved off points for readability. Müller wasn't especially fond of punctuation marks; dialogues and/or conversations were integrated in the paragraphs, and you need an open mind, really, to determine who's speaking when. Take this passage for instance:

"The beeswax was boiling in the pot, the bubbles popping and frothing round the wooden spoon like beer. On the table, among the dishes and brushes and jars, was a photograph. The beautician said: That's my son. The boy was holding a white rabbit in his arms. The rabbit's gone, she said, it ate wet clover. Its stomach burst. Tereza swore. We didn't realize, said the beautician, we picked it with the dew still on. The fresher the better, we thought. With the spoon, she smeared a broad strip of wax up Tereza's leg. It's high time, she said, it's sprouting like dill on your calves. As she peeled the wax off, Tereza closed her eyes. We would have slaughtered the rabbit later anyway, said the beautician, but it wasn't to be. The strip of wax tore. She pulled on the loose end. The first strip hurts, but then you get used to it, there are worse things, said the beautician."

The novel is highly allegorical. My deep fondness for historical fiction was kindled once more, as this book was set during the regime of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania. I will admit that I Googled him after the first day of our buddy reading, just so I could get a good working knowledge of who he is and why this novel had to pertain to his (totalitarian) regime. At least, after I was introduced to Ceausescu (pronounced chou-shess-koo), it was somehow easier to understand where the novel was coming from.

The general atmosphere of The Land of Green Plums was somber, and haunting - in a good and engaging way. The lives of the unnamed narrator, her friends Lola, Georg,Kurt, Edgar, and Tereza pinched at my emotions, and I was immediately drawn to their hardships and struggles in Romania. Reading through their journey - from their university days, to the time when they were individually employed, to their respective "flights", with the shadow of their tormentor Captain Pjele everywhere they went - made me sympathize with them utterly, and I felt like I wanted to be there, in the pages of the book, to console and condole with them all.

I loved this book, and I'm reading more Müller in the future. :)

My complete thoughts on the book - segregated in 5 parts for the buddy read - can be read here.
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Reading Progress

December 17, 2011 – Shelved
May 12, 2012 – Started Reading
May 13, 2012 –
page 48
19.83% "*bleeding profusely*"
May 14, 2012 –
page 96
39.67% "I just had to Google him. The name is pronounced Chou-shess-koo."
May 15, 2012 –
page 146
60.33% "Clouds-how many? Do you know? / Sail out where the four winds blow? / God Almighty counts each one, / None is missing when He's done."
May 16, 2012 –
page 194
80.17% "My daughter has that toy.We bought it from Baguio, at Mines View Park. I didn't even realize it was chicken-torture."
May 17, 2012 –
page 256
100% "When we don't speak, said Edgar, we become unbearable, and when we do, we make fools of ourselves."
May 18, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 19, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
May 19, 2012 – Shelved as: award-winners
May 19, 2012 – Shelved as: buddy-read
May 19, 2012 – Shelved as: biography
May 19, 2012 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
October 10, 2013 – Shelved as: translated
April 16, 2015 – Shelved as: impac-dublin
April 16, 2015 – Shelved as: nobel-laureate

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Monique Thanks, Emir. Will hunt for a copy of The Appointment as well. :)

Angus Emir: Will it also take 2666 days to finish the appointment?

Atty: I see copies of The Appointment at Book Sale branches!

Monique Atty: I see copies of The Appointment at Book Sale branches!

How come I don't?! Haha. I will admit, I don't dig into the piles that much. I usually just scan the books right in front of the shelves. :D

Angus They are on the shelves! Yung isa tinago ko pa nga eh, hinihintay kong magmura, hahaha!

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