The Passport by Herta Müller (Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers)

When Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009, there was the usual outcry from the powerful claiming to be oppressed by the European bias of the judges. Why is our literature being ignored? howled those who dominate the book industry throughout the English-speaking world, and of course they denigrated the winner as if to prove their point.

Tibor Fischer at the Guardian on behalf of the UK was so unimpressed that he misrepresented the plot with a reductive summary:

The Passport is a 90-page novel about a miller, Windisch, a Swab, or ethnic German, who applies for a passport to leave Romania. That’s all in the way of plot or narrative impetus.

Well no, it’s not just about that, Mr Fischer. Not even at literal level. Even the dopiest reader will soon figure out that there’s more to the plot than that.

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