Ode to Herta Müller (Mircea Cartarescu)

I am thrilled that Herta Müller has won the Nobel Prize for literature this year. We have met rather randomly, but now I am proud of all the times we were in the same room together, of having participated in events with her, in Sibiu and other places, of having given a joint interview last year in Stockholm, even of having appeared in the same photographs. She always seemed to me an extraordinary person, I was always amazed by how much power and noblesse can fit into such a tiny and fragile frame. She always intimidated me with this force, with her tragic yet lucid mask.

Herta won this prize, as the jury said, “for her honesty in describing the world of the dispossessed”. It is much more than that. Her style is not “honest”, it is simply brilliant, it is pure poetry. Her aspiration to purity, moral included, is like an inner sword, it’s as if she had a a sword instead of a spine, as in one of Kafka’s dreams. Her answers to the beauty and horror of this world are either yes, yes or no, no, like the Gospel parable. Nothing in between, no compromise between an obsessive revulsion for the opressors and an obsessive compassion for their victims.

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