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The Appointment, By Herta Müller

Reviewed by Arifa Akbar

When Müller was named as 2009's Nobel Prize winner, some deemed the choice obscure and worthy.

Perhaps they had not read The Appointment, a tour de force in storytelling, which manages to turn the barest of prose into poetry - an official's "looks are tailor-made for interrogation"; a woman dances with her "heart fluttering like a wild dove"; the body of a woman who is shot and savaged by dogs looks "as red as a bed of poppies".

Müller draws on the life of a factory worker "summoned" by Ceausescu's regime for sewing epistles in jackets bound for Italy, to capture the largest of emotions: love, loss, spiritual rebellion and hope. Expertly translated by Michael Hulse and Philip Beohm, it is a chilling story, exquisitely told.

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