Romania: “In This Country We Had to Walk, Eat, Sleep and Love in Fear”

There is something about books regarding minorities that tells more about a country, than books about other subjects. The way minorities are treated and the way they see themselves in the whole context reflects on many issues in the society. This is why The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller is an interesting book. It is about the German minority in Romania during the Ceausescu years. “If only the right person would leave, everyone else would be able to stay in the country”.

It is said that the book is in many ways an autobiography. Herta Muller lived as a German speaker for more than 30 years under the dictatorship until she moved to Germany in 1987. Her life in Romania, where she was born and raised, was not an easy life. After the Second World War it was not easy being a German speaker in the country, and the fact that her father used to be part of the SS did not help.

The book is about a German speaking woman in Romania whose father worked for the SS. Two of her friends dies in dubious circumstances, which happened in Muller’s life as well. The book deals with life in a totalitarian state where everyone is suspicious of others, and no one is at ease. “No cities can grow in a dictatorship, because everything stays small when it’s being watched”.

It is not an easy read, and it is not a typical novel. It has more of a form of poems and deep layers, and if you read a paragraph a few times you will discover it has several layers like an onion. In a way I enjoyed the book because the subject is interesting, but on the other hand the quirkiness of the writing made me wish it was more of a traditional novel.

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