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The Appointment Paperback – 27 Sep 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1st Picador USA Ed edition (27 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312420544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312420543
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 1.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,048,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A brooding, fog-shrouded allegory of life under the long oppression of the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. "The New York Times" A slim, masterfully written tale. "Newsweek" A taut and brilliant book. "Chicago Tribune" Powerful...Muller achieves something beautiful. She has wrested poetry from one woman's desire to remain human in an inhuman system. "Newsday" Muller scatters narrative bombshells across a field of dreams. "San Francisco Chronicle" With terse poetry, Muller brings to life a profoundly moving world...the lyrical beauty of the prose and its unflinching moral and emotional honesty carry the reader. "Bookforum""

About the Author

Born in Romania in 1953, Herta Muller lost her job as a teacher and suffered repeated threats after refusing to cooperate with Ceausescu's Secret Police. She succeeded in emigrating in 1987 and now lives in Berlin. The recipient of the European Literature Prize, she has also won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for her previous novel, "The Land of Green Plums.""


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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
The main character of this novel is summoned to an interrogation by the Romanian secret police for the crime of `prostitution in the workplace'. She had stitched her name and address in garments ready for export to Italy.

In the tramway which takes her to the interrogation office, she recalls the main events in her life: marriage, infidelities, brief encounters, professional traveling, sexual harassment, the alcoholism of her partner or the continuous monitoring of her private life.

In a melancholic tone and progressing by association, Herta Müller masterfully evokes a demoralized society ('the indifference with which I would have liked to have died down there, I who loved so devilishly life '), dominated by a corrupt bureaucracy ('perfumed communists') and plagued by alcoholism and suspicion (there are spies everywhere). In short, a dictatorship, a prison.
The only way to escape these hopeless living conditions is emigration at all costs to a free country.

The story exposes a system that has paralyzed an entire population in order to consolidate the power of a tiny minority of former revolutionaries, who became cynic tyrants.

Highly recommended to all lovers of world literature.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The unnamed narrator of this work is a young woman working in a clothing factory in Ceaucescu's Romania. From the first sentence we know that she has been 'summoned' for further interrogation on her 'crime' of smuggling out notes in the clothing consignments in the hope of getting an Italian husband and escaping. As she awaits the appointment and then as she makes the tram journey to the place of interrogation, we follow her thoughts and recollections. She thinks of her current partner, Paul; recalls her dead friend Lilli; looks at the world around her:
'The park was a sheer wall of blackish green, the sky clutching at the trees.'
Without Ms Muller giving us too much explicit detail about what went on, she manages to create an immensely chilling book. The constantly watching other people, wondering if they are spies... The way that false crimes could be attributed to you by anyone you upset...An entire society, many members of whom are paying lip service to a regime they don't support, through fear and hope of 'moving up the ladder' if they comply:
'First he was a fascist; later he said he'd been in the Communist underground...Anyone poor became a Communist. So did many rich people who didn't want to end up in a camp. Now my father's dead and if there's a heaven up there, you can be sure he's claiming to be a Christian.'
Absolutely rivetting book which I would say needs a second read to help you pick up on all the symbols and motifs that pepper the pages.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up this book expecting a narrative of life in communist Romania, in particular around "the appointment" with the security services. It is not that, and it took me a while to realise that it never would be. Rather, it seems to be a mosaic of a life history leading up to that point. As with a mosaic, it is fragmented pieces that make up the whole. The whole proves to be a fascinating inside into life in Romania during that period, not only of the subject herself, but of those she comes into contact with. More than this it gives a sense of the mood of the period and the seemingly inescapabale drudge of life. A good read and one that stays with you well after the last page.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Romania suffered perhaps more than any other Eastern European country under the brutal repression on the Ceaucescu regime. I work in a care home with several Romanians, who have hinted at the things that they saw and experienced during this time, so I suppose I was hoping that reading this book may help me to understand, if one ever really can.

This is for me a difficult book to review, as I found it difficult to understand. It seemed to flit between different scenes, as the narrators mind flitted around her own thoughts and experiences. In many ways it can be seen as the narrators life story, at least of her adulthood, as it contains so many different underlying threads. The main thread is however fear, fear or others and what they may say to incriminate you if you do anything deemed to be out of the norm. This may seem a small and insignificant fear to us, but under the notorious Ceeausescu regime, it carried with it the real fear of interrogation and death. That then is the narrators fear as the story unfolds.

As the blurb suggests, she has been summoned to appear before her inquisitors, the notorious Secret Police. This is not her first interrogation, and is not likely to be the last. As she sits on the tram en route to her appointment, her thoughts begin to wander to what brought her to this point and everything that has happened in her life up until now. The one person that she can rely on is her husband Paul, but this too turns out to be a sham, as when she misses her stop, she sees something that sheds light on tne nature of her relationship and brings her fear into sharp focus witn an almost chilling perspective.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Found a review of this on Amazon while I was actually looking for something else.
Thought it would be something I would like. I can't read this sort of thing all the time, just too, too dark but I very much like the work of East German author Jenny Erpenbeck and The Appointment is similar in tone to VISITATION.
It has an interesting structure and as a published author, I found myself frequently impressed with Herta Muller's rigour. Never once loses control.
Why not five stars? Well, it isn't perfect, I suppose. While I don't mind the plot meandering a bit, it should be to some purpose and occasionally I felt that characters and situations had been included without thinking through what they added [or subtracted]. All in the name of a broader canvas, I guess.
I don't want to say too much about the story; the Amazon summary covers it but in any case this novel isn't really about what happens next. It is about life in a police state, on a daily basis.
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