Herta Müller, the Romanian-born-German-novelist, won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. In the same year, her novel The Hunger Angel (Atemschaukel) was published and received much laudation. Despite this, it seems to me that there has been a dearth of critical analysis of this novel (at least in English, I concede that I do not possess the ability to find it in any other language, although I would easily believe it exists in German).

So far I have only been able to find three or so essays/articles on the book (as well as some reviews by newspapers) but nothing that seemed to me to be serious, academic criticism. This was a huge surprise to me given the fact that the book came out in the same year that she won the Nobel Prize. My question is: has much academic criticism been written concerning this novel? Is there any substantial analysis of her work as a writer that pays special attention to this novel?

  • Is there any particular aspect of this work you're looking for criticism on? Also, I created the book and author tags, but I'm not so sure about the others. Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 14:37
  • Relevant meta post: literature.meta.stackexchange.com/q/753/481
    – Shokhet
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 16:40

1 Answer 1



Academic articles specifically about this book, in both English and German:

  • Beate Petra Kory, "Herta Müllers Sprachpantomime Atemschaukel Ein Annäherungsversuch an die Zentralmetapher des Romans", Temeswarer Beiträge zur Germanistik, Band 10 (2013), pp. 59-67. German title translates to "Herta Müller's language pantomime [?] Atemschaukel: an approach to the central metaphor of the novel". Available here.

  • Pavlo Shopin, "Unpacking the Suitcases: Autofiction and Metaphor in Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel", Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies (2014), 50(2), pp. 197-215. Available here.

  • Bettina Bannasch, "Zero – A Gaping Mouth: The Discourse of the Camps in Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel between Literary Theory and Political Philosophy", chapter in Other people's pain: narratives of trauma and the question of ethics (2011), edited by Martin Modlinger and Philipp Sonntag.

  • Olivia Spiridon, "From Fact to Fiction: Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel", chapter 8 in Herta Müller: Politics and Aesthetics (2013), edited by Bettina Brandt and Valentina Glajar.

  • Christian Bergmann, "Das Unsagbare sagen: Metapher, Symbol und Allegorie in Herta Müllers Roman Atemschaukel", Muttersprache: Zeitschrift zur Pflege und Erforschung der deutschen Sprache (2011), 121(3), pp. 220-226. German title translates to "Speak the unspeakable: metaphor, symbol, and allegory in Herta Müller’s novel Atemschaukel".

More general analysis that pays special attention to this novel:

  • Karin Bauer, "Gender and the Sexual Politics of Exchange in Herta Müller’s Prose", chapter 10 in Herta Müller (2013), edited by Brigid Haines and Lyn Marven.

  • Gunther Martens & Benjamin Biebuyck, "Channelling figurativity through narrative: The paranarrative in fiction and non-fiction", Language and Literature (2013), 22(3), pp. 249-262. Contains a section entitled "Paranarrative and metaphor in praesentia in Herta Müller's The Hunger Angel (2009)".

More articles specifically about this novel (in German), though I'm not sure how academic they are, can be found in the 10/2011 edition of Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch (A German Studies Yearbook), focusing on Herta Müller (see here):

  • Hartmut Steinecke, "Herta Müller: Atemschaukel. Ein Roman vom “Nullpunkt der Existenz”". German title translates to "Herta Müller: The Hunger Angel. A novel from the "origin of existence"".
  • Michael Braun, "Die Erfindung der Erinnerung: Herta Müllers Atemschaukel". German title translates to "The invention of memory: Herta Müller's Atemschaukel".
  • Norbert Otto Eke, "“Gelber Mais, keine Zeit”. Herta Müllers Nach-Schrift Atemschaukel. Roman". German title translates to ""Yellow corn, no time". Herta Müller's post-script novel [?] Atemschaukel".

How did I find all this?

Using Google Scholar!

It took a surprisingly short time to gather all the material presented here. The most time-consuming part was just to write up all of these references in a proper style and translate the German ones. Getting a list of them was pretty easy just from here and here. I only started using Google Scholar recently, but it's an invaluable tool for finding academic references in literature and other subjects.

  • 1
    Thank you for the answer but honestly the last section comes off as incredibly condescending; there's a better way to express the sentiment that Google Scholar is a good resource.
    – Not_Here
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:06
  • @Not_Here I'm really sorry; that wasn't my intention at all. Does it look nicer now?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:23

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