Nobel Laureate’s novels boost prestige of NU Press

Caroline Dzeba

When a once-obscure German author won the Nobel Prize for Literature this month, Northwestern University Press had a reason to celebrate along with her.

Though recently faced with budget cuts, The Daily reported last month, the NU Press is currently processing thousands of back orders for Romanian-born Herta Müller’s novels.

When the Swedish Academy awarded its 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature to Müller, it surprised both her and the NU Press. NU Press is one of the few English-language publishing houses to hold publication rights to two of Müller’s novels, now in high demand after the Oct. 8 announcement.

Prior to the Nobel Committee’s decision, Müller had little international acclaim, though her novels were received favorably in Europe. NU Press published two of her novels in English, “The Land of Green Plums” and “Traveling on One Leg,” in 1998. Publishing rights for “The Land of Green Plums” will last for a year, while NU Press has permanent rights to “Traveling on One Leg,” NU Press Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Director Henry Carrigan said.

“(Müller) came to our attention because we were publishing authors from that part of the world,” Carrigan said. “Northwestern has always had a commitment to publishing literature in translation, especially in Eastern European languages.”

When Müller’s earlier novels first reached NU Press readers, they were well-received and were approved for publication, Carrigan said. Müller, who grew up in Communist Romania as an ethnic German minority, drew on life experiences for her writing.

“The light she shone on the harshness of the Nicolae CeauՀ