Herta Müller: Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet (The Appointment)


The latest addition to my website is Herta Müller‘s Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet (The Appointment). This is a grim tale of life in Communist Romania. The narrator is on her second marriage, married to Paul, an alcoholic, who works in an engineering factory. She works in a clothing factory, a job she hates. She had had a brief affair with her boss but she ended it. She has been accused of planting marriage proposals in the shirts she makes, which are destined for Italy, and is accused of defamation of Romania and prostitution. At the beginning of the novel we learn that she has been again been summoned to see Major Albu of the Secret Service. She has clearly been to see him several times before. She believes that the accusations against her – of planting similar notes in clothes destined for France and Sweden – are the results of revenge tactics by Nelu and claims her innocence. We follow her long bus journey to the appointment with the Major, as well as learning about her early life, such as her father’s affair with a girl she was at school with, the fate of her friend, Lilli, who was planning to flee the country with her lover, before they were caught and what happens to Paul, who seems to be a victim of Nelu’s revenge against the narrator. Müller, who came from the German-speaking minority in Romania, tells a fine tale, whose motto is the last sentence – The trick is not to go mad.

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