The Appointment, By Herta Müller

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The Independent Culture

When Müller was named as 2009's Nobel Prize winner, some deemed the choice obscure and worthy. Perhaps they had not read The Appointment, a tour de force in storytelling, which manages to turn the barest of prose into poetry - an official's "looks are tailor-made for interrogation"; a woman dances with her "heart fluttering like a wild dove"; the body of a woman who is shot and savaged by dogs looks "as red as a bed of poppies".

Müller draws on the life of a factory worker "summoned" by Ceausescu's regime for sewing epistles in jackets bound for Italy, to capture the largest of emotions: love, loss, spiritual rebellion and hope. Expertly translated by Michael Hulse and Philip Beohm, it is a chilling story, exquisitely told.