Herta Müller’s novel The Appointment was published in 2001 by Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Company. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.
The novel opens with an unnamed narrator riding to an interrogation session by a secret police officer named Major Albu in Romania’s regime. The interview sessions occur whenever Major Albu calls on her, which leaves the narrator in a constant state of fear. This time, she has been summoned to meet on Thursday at ten o'clock sharp.
The narrator is a young clothing-factory worker during the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, a despotic Communist leader who repressed his people for twenty-four years. She has been questioned before for many reasons, and now she is accused of sewing notes that say “Marry me” inside the jackets of men’s suits that are shipped to Italy. When she meets Major Albu, he gives her a wet kiss on her fingers. He then accuses her of prostitution at her job because of the notes inside the jackets.
The narrative follows the memories and thoughts of the narrator within this repressed, tormented state. She can trust no one. Her second husband, Paul, is her only source of strength, but he is an alcoholic, which complicates her situation. The narrator seeks to create some semblance of order, but she is constantly thwarted.
The narrative presents several different events that the narrator is thinking about while on her way to the interrogation. She remembers her father, who was a bus driver, and his adulterous relationships. She thinks of an argument with her husband Paul. She also remembers the burial of her grandparents with her first husband and his father. The narrator recalls the death of Lilli, her friend, as she attempted to escape to Hungary. Because there is little to hold each of those specific memories together, the author may be trying to convey the narrator’s distracted and fragmented state of mind.
Reviewers have criticized The Appointment for its lack of direction. The intensity of the events also makes it a difficult novel for casual readers, but it is recommended for academic studies.