Land of Green Plums, Herta Müller
Nobel Prize winner 2009. Herta Müller is writing semi-autobiographically about life under the Romanian dictator Ceausescu. What really struck me about this novel was my confusion as to when it was set. It is clearly post second world war, but after I did some background reading about communist Romania, I realised that people lived in what really seems to be an old fashioned and extremely difficult way of life up until the 1980s.
The style of the book makes a rebellion (of sorts) against the kind of watchful repression that alters everything, including how people speak and think. The language is so rich (even in translation), and every word seems to be consciously chosen. The whole book is set out as random snapshots of memory, of plot, of description, of conversation, of fairytale, of song…
This book is almost on parr with All Quiet on the Western Front, in terms of beautiful writing about ugly subjects, as well as being the kind of book everybody ought to read in order to better understand human nature.