Herta Müller Interview: On Inger Christensen

“Now they’ve let Inger die.” In this moving video the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, Herta Müller, talks about her then recently deceased colleague and friend, Danish writer Inger Christensen, whom Müller feels deserved the prestigious prize.

“I wouldn’t have minded waiting. I could have received it later, or perhaps not at all. But I would have loved for Inger to get it.” Herta Müller and Inger Christensen often met in Berlin, where Christensen also was a celebrated poet. Müller describes the way Christensen always managed to spellbind her audience with her poetry: “Inger’s voice and personality were beautiful.”

Herta Müller (b. 1953) is a German-Romanian novelist, poet and essayist. Müller is noted for her works depicting the effects of violence, cruelty and terror, typically set in communist Romania during the Nicolae Ceausescu regime, which she herself experienced. Among her publications are her debut collection of short stories ‘Niederungen’ (1982), which was censored in Romania and published uncensored in Germany two years later; the novels ‘Drückender Tango’ (1984), ‘Herztier’ (1994) (‘The Land of Green Plums’), ‘Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet’ (1997) (‘The Appointment’), ‘Atemschaukel’ (2009) (‘The Hunger Angel’) and the autobiographical ‘Mein Vaterland war ein Apfelkern’ (2014). In October 2009 Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy describing her as a woman “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” Because Müller had publicly criticized the dictatorship in Romania, she was prohibited from publishing in her own country, and in 1987 she and her husband immigrated to Berlin, Germany where they have lived since.

Inger Christensen (1935-2009) was a Danish writer especially known for her poetry, which placed her among Denmark’s most respected poets. When she passed away, the international press declared that Christensen had not received the acknowledgement she was entitled to, and that she should have received a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Herta Müller was interviewed by Danish writer and journalist Niels Barfoed at the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in August 2014.

Camera: Klaus Elmer, Nikolaj Jungersen, Jakob Solbakken and Mathias Nyholm.
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden