German Herta Mueller, a Romanian-born writer who produced tales of the disenfranchised and fought for free speech, won the 2009 Nobel prize for literature Thursday.
The Swedish Academy, which decides the winner of the 10 million Swedish crown ($1.4 million) prize, recognized Mueller for her ability to depict the landscape of the dispossessed.
Mueller, whose mother was sent to a Soviet work camp for five years and who herself was harassed by the Romanian secret police after refusing to be an informer, made her debut in 1982 with a collection of short stories.
That work, Niederungen, was censored in Romania. In it, and in her book Drueckender Tango (Oppressive Tango) published two years later, she wrote about corruption and repression in a German-speaking village in Romania.
Her works reflect her experiences growing up in Romania under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, whose rule came to an end in 1989 when he was executed.
The nationality of this year's award has been more closely watched than usual after comments last year by former Academy Permanent Secretary Horace Engdahl that Americans did not participate in literature's big dialogue.
Some had speculated that the committee might chose an American to make up for bruised feelings.