The Passport

The Passport

Herta Müller

In Romania under Ceausescu in the 1980s, the Windischs, a family of German descent, are waiting for a travel permit so they can go to West Germany. While ever more of their German-Romanian neighbours leave the village, the family are forced to remain, waiting to obtain their papers. Life seems to stand still. Until they allow daughter Amelie to turn prostitute in exchange for the securing the documents they are so desperate for. The Passport is a beautiful, haunting novel whose subject is a German village in Romania caught between the stifling hopelessness of Ceausescu’s dictatorship and the glittering temptations of the West. Stories from the past are woven together with the problems Windisch, the village miller, faces after he applies for permission to emigrate to West Germany.

Herta Müller describes with poetic attention the dreams and superstitions, conflicts and oppression of a forgotten region, the Banat, in the Danube Plain. In sparse, poetic language, Herta Müller captures the forlorn plight of a trapped people.

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The Passport

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