Simon Schama, in defence of the essay in the age of Twitter, writes: 'The self-propulsion of a ranging intelligence is the dynamo that drives a powerful essay; the headlong gallop of thought to a destination the reader can't predict and which may not have occurred to the writer when he began.' That power, that propulsion, that surprise is evident in every one of this selection of the very finest of the essays produced over the past 20 years by the Romanian-German Nobel Laureate Herta Muller.
She interrogates Communist society - especially in its bizarre Romanian Ceausescu variation - and matters of complicity, secrecy, betrayal, guilt, responsibility, resistance and the power of literature.
Her writing is bewitching and convincing; her approach is unswerving, unsparing and undeluded.
Her reader is grateful. These are among the most powerful demonstrations of the pen's might exceeding the sword's to be produced in the last forty years in Europe.