As in 'The Land of Green Plums', Muller graphically relates how, living under the deadening effect of the relentless repression of Ceausescu's regime,people could barely remain human. Barren and sordid relations characterise lives that are wasted by drink,with superstition offering the only means of survival for some. The defiant and vital are snuffed out with only the craven left, half-alive, just waiting. Women,using their wits,are more resilient; the men just drink. Deceit and betrayal breed suspicion and spawn political and personal disillusionment, leading to withdrawal and isolation. The system is oiled by corruption, pilfering and profiteering, sexual favours and exploitation. Strutting collaborators and officials are sadistic in the exercise of their powers. Muller's device is the continuous,internal monologue of the female protagonist,with her mind going back to the past,turning it over, piecing different times and places together,gradually and ingeniously constructing the characters, ultimately arousing and resolving the reader's speculations.Illuminated by a dead-pan and ironic humour, Muller communicates poetically and viscerally the surreal state of being under constant surveillance. Detachment and an encroaching 'madness' become a form of escape from the terror and panic induced by interrogations and threats of death. This 'tour de force' can stand alongside the similar works of Solzhenitsyn, and both authors have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for their exploration of the human soul as it suffers and struggles under tyranny.