THE FOX WAS EVER THE HUNTER by Herta Müller
Kirkus Star

THE FOX WAS EVER THE HUNTER

by , translated by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Atmospheric, lyrical novel from Nobel Prize–winning writer Müller (Traveling on One Leg, 1998, etc.) of life in Romania during the closing days of the Ceausescu dictatorship.

Considered Müller’s most difficult, this novel first appeared in 1992. The German original permits the rendering of the title as, “back then, the fox was the hunter.” Now the fox is definitely the quarry. It takes a while to come to that point, however, for the first 100 or so pages of Müller’s book are given over to densely rendered, poetic descriptions of people and places in a town along the Danube that sometimes have only peripherally to do with the main action; in that inventory, flies, ants, dogs, and poplars figure prominently. Adina, the central character, is a teacher, her boyfriend, Paul, a musician. They are not exactly activists, not exactly hard-core intellectuals, but even so, they’re suspect enough that a fox fur that Adina has had since girlhood is steadily being whittled away, taunting evidence that while they’re at work, the Securitate is visiting their apartment. Someone is always watching. Even Pavel, the paramour of Adina’s friend Clara, isn’t immune from being spied on as the two make love in an apparently deserted cornfield—and he’s one of the spies: “Aren’t you a lawyer,” Clara asks him. “Yes, he says, but not at the courthouse.” In this world, a mild joke about the dictator takes on the most serious contours. Adina’s friendship with Clara frays over her choice of lovers, but even so, Clara warns Adina that the noose is tightening, giving her time to escape, as Müller herself did, to the West—though Adina worries that in trying to flee they’ll wind up gunned down in a cornfield: “And every now and then, she said, a hair will get stuck in your teeth while you’re eating, and it won’t be one of the baker’s that just happened to land in the dough.”

An essential work of post–Iron Curtain literature and a harrowing portrait of life under suspicion.

Pub Date: May 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9302-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016




9 BOOKS THAT LET YOU TRAVEL ABROAD (WITHOUT LEAVING HOME) :

FictionHOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi
by Yaa Gyasi
FictionSMOKE by Dan Vyleta
by Dan Vyleta
FictionTHE CROW GIRL by Erik Axl Sund
by Erik Axl Sund
FictionBEFORE THE FEAST by Saša Stanišic
by Saša Stanišic

MORE BY HERTA MÜLLER

FictionTHE HUNGER ANGEL by Philip Boehm
by Herta Müller
FictionTHE APPOINTMENT by Herta Müller
by Herta Müller
FictionNADIRS by Herta Müller
by Herta Müller

MORE BY PHILIP BOEHM

FictionCHASING THE KING OF HEARTS by Hanna Krall
by Hanna Krall
FictionHERE COMES MRS. KUGELMAN by Minka Pradelski
by Minka Pradelski
FictionTHE HUNGER ANGEL by Philip Boehm
by Herta Müller

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionTHE ENCOUNTER by Gabriela Adamesteanu
by Gabriela Adamesteanu
FictionGIRL AT WAR by Sara Novic
by Sara Novic
NonfictionTHE HOLE IN THE FLAG by Andrei Codrescu
by Andrei Codrescu