Summary and book reviews of The Fox Was Ever the Hunter by Herta Muller

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter

by Herta Muller

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter by Herta Muller
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2016, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan

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About this Book

Book Summary

An early masterpiece from the winner of the Nobel Prize hailed as the laureate of life under totalitarianism.

Romania - the last months of the Ceausescu regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara's lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on all of the group.

One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another occasion it's the hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilated fur is a sign that she is being tracked by the secret police - the fox was ever the hunter.

Images of photographic precision combine into a kaleidoscope of terror as Adina and her friends struggle to keep mind and body intact in a world pervaded by complicity and permeated with fear, where it's hard to tell victim from perpetrator.

In The Fox Was Always a Hunter, Herta Müller once again uses language that displays the "concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose" - as the Swedish Academy noted upon awarding her the Nobel Prize - to create a hauntingly cinematic portrayal of the corruption of the soul under totalitarianism.

The way of the apple worm

The ant is carrying a dead fly three times its size. The ant can't see the way ahead, it flips the fly around and crawls back. Adina doesn't want to block the ant's path so she pulls in her elbow. A clump of tar next to her knee glistens as it seethes in the sun. Adina dabs at the tar with her finger, raising a thin thread that stiffens in the air before it snaps.

The ant has the head of a pin, the sun can't find any place to burn. The sun stings. The ant loses its way. It crawls but is not alive, the human eye does not consider it an animal. The spike heads of the grasses on the outskirts of town crawl the same way. The fly is alive because it's three times the size of the ant and because it's being carried, the human eye does consider the fly an animal.

Clara is blinded by the blazing pumpkin of the sun and doesn't see the fly. She sits with her legs apart and rests her hands between her knees. Pubic hair shows where her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Admittedly, this is not going to be a book that everyone is going to love, and, in fact, I'm sure that many will hate it. However, I hope that those who do read it to the end will realize, as I did, that The Fox Was Ever the Hunter is much more than a bunch of poetic vignettes strung together against the background of communist Romania. There are subtleties here that can only be discovered after finishing it, and they certainly make it worth your while.   (Reviewed by Davida Chazan).

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Media Reviews

The Washington Post

A haunting portrayal of the secret lives of people and things during the last breaths of an obliterating regime . . . Müller inches closer to narrowing the gap between people and things, between life and language. For that reason, her sparse prose often resembles poetry.

The New York Times Book Review

Each and every one of Müller's stories, every flight of luscious language and every brutal fact, has been necessary in depicting a society torn to pieces and tasked, with the curtains finally open and the light streaming in, with putting those pieces back together to make sense of it all.

The Boston Globe

From the moment she left, Müller has exercised her voice with a fury that vibrates off the page nearly a quarter century later. In this vividly poetic novel, she reminds us what life without that freedom looked, felt, and tasted like.

The Atlantic

A dark collage, which glints with fear—and with beauty . . . Müller’s prose—as poetic as it is blunt—works like a prism, shattering and illuminating a world that is always watching, waiting.

Kirkus Reviews

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

Booklist

Starred Review. Thickly lyrical and sometimes downright hallucinatory . . . few descriptions of life under totalitarian rule are as beautifully evocative.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Personal Recollections of Romania Under Ceausescu's Rule

CeausescuThe whole world watched the Romanian revolution and the fall of the country's leader Ceausescu (pronounced chow-shess-ku) in December 1988. Before that historic time, not many outsiders had any idea of what was really going on in this Eastern European country. Although I did not visit Romania until 1992, I did have an inkling of what was going on because, in late 1987, I took a position with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC), to work with their welfare programs in Romania.

RomaniaRomania is about the size of West Germany, just to the west of the Black Sea. Prior to the fall of communism, it was nestled between the Former USSR to the north (now Ukraine), with Hungary to the north-west and Bulgaria to the south. The so-...

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