The Hunger Angel

By Herta Muller
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buy Now This book is on reading list for November 2012

Why We Like This Book

The Hunger Angel reminds the reader that there is a broad spectrum of topics for authors to explore as well as a full range of tools to use for that exploration. In this very painful narrative of life in a labor camp, we come to know (perhaps more intimately than we would like to) how difficult it is to endure the most severe hardships. But, while the subject matter is severe, the approach is sensitive and humane. Muller hits many high notes as she teases out themes of survival, suffering, community, and justice. The structure of this novel and the spare language add to its chilling effect. Herta Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature (2009), and after reading The Hunger Angel you will see why.

Discussion Questions

1. The novel opens with “On packing suitcases.” What do we learn about the narrator in this section and why is it important?

2. As the story unfolds, how are the hardships of life in the Soviet labor camp conveyed? What is the effect of the author’s style and diction?

3. Do you have compassion for Leo Auberg?

4. Why does Muller call the haunting presence of life and death “The Hunger Angel”?

5. Is it possible for any of the characters to escape their surroundings? If so, how?

6. How is justice meted out in the camp? Do we feel compassion for the victims?

7. Why do you think Herta Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature? Does this novel contribute to the imaginative literature of life in a concentration camp?











2 Comments for“The Hunger Angel”

  1. Reply Rebecca says:

    This was a captivating book – beautifully translated and hauntingly told. Thank you for the questions. I revised them a bit for my book club:

    Who or what is the Hunger Angel?

    The book begins, “On packing suitcases” what do we learn about the narrator in this section?

    Who is the narrator? When do we discover his name and why might this be important?

    Who do you have compassion for in the story? Who does Leo have compassion for?

    What is justice in the camp? Do you think this is true justice? Why or why not?

    What is the significance of the broken clock and its worm?

    What is the role of beauty in the story?

    What would escaping from the camp look like for Leo? Did he ever find freedom?

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