The Appointment by Herta Müller

8008837Fiction – eBook. Translated from German by Michael Hulse and Philip Boehm. Picador, 2010. Originally published 1997. 212 pgs.

Winner of the Nobel Prize, Müller’s novel is set in Communist Romania under dictator Nicolai Ceauşescu’s regime and follows an unnamed narrator on her way to an appointment with the secret police.

As a worker in a garment factory, the unnamed narrator (who’s name we never learn) has been summoned repeatedly by the secret police for sneaking marriage proposals into pants before shipment to a non-Soviet bloc country.

Normally when reading a novel I break down my reading into a set number of chapters per night. Müller’s novel, however, is without chapters and consists of an entire stream of consciousness as the unnamed narrator travels on the bus to her ten o’clock appointment.

The little boy and his father and the other passengers on the bus remind her childhood, her first husband, and her current husband, Paul. I enjoyed the insights into Communist Romania the narrator provided, and I found her memories of her friend Lilli to be of the most interest especially since Lilli attempted to escape across the border to Hungary.

But I was also quite confused by the story. I do not understand the ending at all and was left feeling very unfulfilled. I just wanted more than the story was prepared to give me.

Oddly enough, this book has compelled me to read more by Müller. I know that sounds odd considering how I didn’t really enjoy this novel but there was something about her style that made me want to read more. Certainly not any time soon but if another Müller book crossed my path, I would pick it up and give it a try.

Others’ Thoughts:

Reading Buddies

Hosted by Erin of Erin Reads, Reading Buddies was born out of Erin’s 2011 reading goal of tackling books on her TBR list. She put out a call to find out if anyone was interested in reading some of the same books along with her. Since she and I shared several books between our two lists, I jumped at the chance to cross books of my TBR list and read along with her. The Appointment was one of the selections for March. April’s selections include The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.


    • That’s what really drew me into the novel. I wanted to read more about Communist Romania (especially since one of the characters tries to flee to Hungary). I will keep looking, though.


  1. I agree, the ending was confusing. It felt all wrong, like the last 10 pages or so should’ve been removed and another 100 pages added. I’d read Mueller again too, though, if another of her books every crosses my path.


  2. Pingback: Reading Buddies Wrap-Up: “The Appointment” by Herta Müller | Erin Reads

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