German writer takes Nobel Prize in Literature

Romanian-born German author Herta Mueller, who was censored for her critical depictions of life under communist rule, has received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Romanian-born German author Herta Mueller, who was censored for her critical depictions of life under communist rule, has received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Royal Swedish Academy said Thursday that Mueller's work shows "the frankness of prose" and "depicts the landscape of the dispossessed."

"Because Mueller had publicly criticized the dictatorship in Romania, she was prohibited from publishing in her own country," said the prize citation. Though her works were heavily criticized in Romania, they were well-received outside the country, the committee said.

"I am very surprised and still cannot believe it," Mueller, who is widely renowned in Germany, said in a statement released by her publisher.

"I can't say anything more at the moment."

The 56-year-old author will receive an award of 10 million kronor ($1.5 million), a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

Mueller, who emigrated to Germany from then-Communist Romania in 1987, made her debut in 1982 with a collection of short stories titled Niederungen, which was promptly censored by the Romanian government.

In 1984, an uncensored version was published in Germany and her work depicting life in a small, German-speaking village in Romania was devoured by readers. That work was followed by Oppressive Tango in Romania.

Most of her works are in German, but some works have been translated into English, French and Spanish, including The Passport, The Land of Green Plums, Traveling on One Leg and The Appointment.

She was eventually prohibited from publishing in Romania because of her criticism of the government.

12th female prize-winner

Mueller is the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Recent female winners include Austria's Elfriede Jelinek in 2004 and British writer Doris Lessing in 2007.

Mueller, along with Americans Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth and Thomas Pynchon and Israeli Amos Oz were considered top contenders for the prize. There had been speculation ahead of the announcement the prize may be awarded to a non-European.

The last American winner was Toni Morrison in 1993. No writer from South America has won since Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982. Canadian-born Saul Bellow, who was a resident of the United States for much of his life, won in 1976.

Last year's Nobel prize went to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio of France.

One hundred and six writers have won the Nobel literature prize since the prizes were established in 1901.

4th of six Nobel prizes

The prize announcement is the fourth of six awards focusing on medicine, physics, chemistry, economics, literature and the Peace Prize that will be announced through Oct. 12.

The foundation for the prizes was laid when Alfred Nobel, the Swede who invented dynamite, left much of his wealth to their establishment. The prizes were originally awarded in the categories of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. The economics prize is technically not a Nobel but a 1968 creation of Sweden's central bank.

On Wednesday, a trio of scientists received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their studies of the structure and function of ribosomes, which has lead to the research and development of new antibiotics.

On Tuesday, three scientists, including Canadian Willard S. Boyle, received the Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries that include the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication and the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD sensor), an imaging semiconductor circuit used in digital cameras.

On Monday, three American scientists shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells, an insight that has inspired new lines of research into cancer.

With files from The Associated Press