In the words of the Swedish Academy, Müller “with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”.
Born in 1953 in a German-speaking enclave in Romania, she emigrated to Germany in 1987. Her mother spent five years in a work camp in present-day Ukraine and her father served in the Waffen SS during World War II.
One of her most recent works, Atemschaukel (2009), portrayed the exile of German Romanians in the Soviet Union, where many German Romanians were deported at the end of the war.
In the mid 1970s, Müller studied German and Romanian literature at university in Timişoara, during which time she was linked with Aktionsgruppe Banat, a circle of young German-speaking authors who opposed Ceauşescu’s dictatorship.
She later worked at a factory, but was fired after refusing to work as an informant for the secret police.
Müller made her literary debut in 1982 with Niederungen, a collection of short stories, which was censored in Romania. She released an uncensored version in Germany two years later, while at the same time publishing a second book, Drückender Tango, in Romania.
The two works depicted life in a secluded German-speaking village, detailing the corruption and oppression that came with it.
While criticized in her own country, Müller was received warmly by the German press.
In the 1990s, Müller published several more novels which highlighted the challenges and despair of life in a dictatorship.
She currently lives in Berlin, and since 1995 has served as a member of the Germany Academy for Language and Literature (Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung).