The Land of Green Plums follows in the tradition of books like Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being in capturing the subtle, yet brutal psychological torments that build up under normal life within a Communist dictatorship. This semi-autobiographical novel concerns the seemingly simple story of a woman growing up, but never fitting in. Part of this alienation reflects the narrator's refusal to allow the Romanian state to control her every thought and action. Reported in a numb, symbolic way, like punctuation marks throughout the novel, are those that the state callously murders or forces to an early grave. Eventually, after persecution in a myriad of ways, the protagonist manages to escape to Germany, to freedom, but somehow little seems to have changed.
The haunting, bleak plot of The Land of Green Plums is only a tiny proportion of what makes this novel exceptional. Told by a combination of dream sequences, bitter twisted songs, and a time-fractured narrative that's addicted to childhood details, there is poetry in almost every line. There is an incredibly rich symbolic language here. There are mountains of furious, suppressed emotions hidden behind the cold, externalised sentences.
This is a novel to savour, to read slowly in order to fully absorb the intense richness of the atmospheric language. There are ideas in here so starkly ripe with meaning that I couldn't help but be in awe of the skill on almost every page. Modern literature doesn't get much better than this.