T.R.'s Reviews > The Hunger Angel
The Hunger Angel
Herta Müller's novel, set in the forced labour camps of the Russian Gulag after WWII, delves with great intensity and power into dislocation and homesickness in the midst of utter deprivation. The desolation and depravity of the camps, where Romanian Germans were forced into the 'rebuilding' of Russia, is portrayed in minutely-observed detail and imagery. Reading, we almost feel we are there, too, and the experience is deeply troubling, almost unendurable. The short chapters, with layered connections to each other, the intricate wordplay, with compound words, even puns, and the strangely heart-breaking cast of characters, are drawn together with astonishing artistry. There is almost no release, no denouement tinged by a greater, better humanity. Even decades after his release, the protagonist remains trapped within the expanding bounds of the camp, bounding the limits of his own mind. He remains prisoner to a place, witness to an episode, that he cannot escape. It is something he can never forget. And neither can we.
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