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Reaction to Herta Müller’s Nobel Prize win

The Romanian-born German author Herta Müller has won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. If you’ve never heard of her before, that’s understandable: while she’s widely read in Eastern Europe and is one of Germany’s most acclaimed novelists, only four of Müller’s books have appeared in English, the most recent translation of her work being 2001’s The Appointment. Müller’s novel, The Land of Green Plums, won the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Among English-language media, Müller’s win has caused some head-scratching and the odd complaint that the Swedish Academy should get out more. A roundup of coverage:

  • Müller is profiled by The New York Times, the BBC, and Times Online
  • In a mostly positive review, New York Times reviewer Peter Filkins writes that The Appointment is “more a test of endurance than a pleasure”
  • The Associated Press offers a partial list of Müller’s work, while the Complete Review offers a more extensive overview
  • Writing in Time magazine, Lev Grossman says that Müller’s surprise pick is really no surprise at all
  • A blogger at Entertainment Weekly complains that the Swedish Academy has “once again … selected a virtual unknown,” before confessing to being a myopic American poorly read in non-English lit