Herta Müller: Biography

Herta Müller

17 aug 1953

Herta Muller was born in Romania as a part of the German-speaking minority on August 19, 1953 and is well known as a novelist and a poet. She attended the University of West Timisoara where she pursued a degree in German studies and Romanian literature. She worked for a time as a translator and a teacher before becoming a writer.

Her first book, Nadirs, appeared in 1982 and made her well-known in Germany. It also set the stage for much of her subsequent works as it gave a child’s perspective of life in a dictatorial state which became the focus of many of her later works. They are mainly about life under oppression in a communist Romania ruled by a brutal dictator who suppressed all forms of freedom, including that of speech. Many of her books, although written as fiction, are based on real life experiences of the horrors of this kind of life as some are based on firsthand accounts of real people, including her mother, of life in the gulag. She herself was regarded as an enemy of the state and was persecuted, facing endless interrogations and many times she feared for her life.

Muller had her best year as a writer in 2009 when her book The Hunger Angel won the Franz Werfel Human Rights Award and later that same year she was awarded the most prestigious literary prize in the world – the Nobel Prize for Literature. In addition to this, over the years, she has won no less than twenty other awards for her works which are many and consist of fiction as well as poetry. Her books have been published in English, Spanish, French and Swedish.

Herta Muller presently lives in Berlin with her husband Harry Merkle.