She believes there are four possible ways for life to play out. "The first and the best: don't get summoned and don't go mad, like most people." The second is to not get summoned but lose your mind anyway. The third is to get summoned and go mad. The fourth is to get summoned but not go mad. Although the narrator believes she is in that fourth category, questions may occasionally arise. That morning, in fact, she observes "there's nothing to think about, because I myself am nothing, apart from being summoned."
The Appointment allows the reader to ultimately piece together a fairly full understanding of the narrator's past and her experiences. It is, however, far from a linear journey. Even more so than most internal monologues, hers is quite scattershot. Her thoughts and memories jump from one fragment or tale to something she sees on the tram or out the window to another fragment of memory, rarely having any chronological order. As such, it echoes the description of Müller's prose work used by the presenter at her Nobel Prize ceremony: there is "no epic line, no plot with beginning and end."
Yet perhaps that is what best describes life under a repressive regime. There is nothing epic in making it through another day or, if there is, it is understood and remains unstated by and among your friends and family. The abrading strain of stifling your speech, emotions, and actions could easily make life seem interminable or, at a minimum, genuinely impoverished. The question of who to trust and whether they will betray you also seems to have no end. Müller, who won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1998 for her novel The Land of Green Plums, plainly conveys that with the style, tone, and approach of The Appointment. The question is whether the internal monologue upon which it is built is too fragmented and bleak to find a place with American readers.