Friday, 9 October 2009

Chalmers and Marven, Berlin Tabloids on Herta Müller

Amidst the no doubt predictable tidal wave of semi-informed comment (which is why I'm not saying much), a couple of voices actually have something to say about Herta Müller.

Starting with Martin Chalmers, one of her previous translators. He has a very touching piece in the Guardian books blog giving some background information and a taste of her work. Martin, one of those fantastic translatorly curmudgeons (and I mean that in a good way, honest) who points out all that is wrong with the Anglo-American publishing world at regular intervals, closes his piece:

(...) the Swedish Academy is, I think, doing two things. It is once again challenging the self-satisfied Anglo-centrism of the English-language publishing business, with its rather narrow definitions of what constitutes good writing, and it is widening our ideas of Europe. And it is perhaps in its failure to engage with European literatures that the English culture, for all the advantages of the global reach of the English language, shows itself at its most provincial.

Then you can listen to another translator and Germanist, Lyn Marven, on BBC Radio 3 - if you're quick, that is. Go to around the 16th minute to find out all sorts of stuff about Herta Müller, only online for the next six days, unfortunately. Lyn tells us about some of Müller's motifs and motivations, corrects the presenter's assumption that only one of her books has been translated, and so on.

Berlin's tabloids are even more enthusiastic than Lyn, claiming Herta Müller as the city's own. It helps that she shares a name (almost) with one of Berlin's beleaguered football teams. The reporters for Berliner Kurier and BZ all went to last night's press conference and all bang on about how small Herta Müller is. Presumably this is a triumph for short women living in Friedenau. What's interesting is that both pieces link to reactions from Germany's household-name critics. Find out in the Kurier that Marcel Reich-Ranicki is not amused that his favourite Philip Roth didn't win - and pulls the "token female" card currently doing the rounds. And get all the gossip about what she's really like from Elke Heidenreich in the BZ.

1 comment:

Petre said...

thank you Herta for writing the way you are about your experience thank you germany for giving her a voice and thank you sweden for shining the spotlight on her work - there is lot to learned from it

a german romanian living in the usa