Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Her voice sounded firm and unwavering. Now that there was danger seated at the table, her fear and unrest were gone."

I've got a review of Hans Fallada's novel of German resistance to the Nazis Every Man Dies Alone up at the Seminary Co-op bookstore's Front Table today. The novel, which was published to great success in Germany in 1947, has only now been translated into English for the first time, the result of some literary crate-digging by Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson.

Liesl Schillinger's review of the novel in the New York Times Book Review offers a quick recap of Fallada's troubled life and strange career: his early success, his emotional and mental instability, his decision to remain in Germany throughout the war (much of which he spent in an asylum), and the twenty-four-day burst of writing in 1946 that produced Every Man Dies Alone. Geoff Wilkes's afterword to the book, meanwhile, presents a more extended biography, while also offering a nuanced consideration of the sometimes troubling mix of collaboration and resistance that enabled Fallada to survive the war without being forced to flee Germany.

Simultaneous with the publication of Every Man Dies Alone, Melville House is also publishing two of Fallada's earlier novels, Little Man, What Now? (1932) and The Drinker (1950), which were published in English soon after their original publications but have long been out of print. It's a smart decision, one that I wish more publishers would make, for it enables readers to immediately get a better sense of a writer's overall achievement, as well as offering a context for the flagship book. I'll definitely have to check these two out.

1 comment:

  1. Great review over there. I just read this (the Penguin UK edition), and thoroughly enjoyed it: a big, baggy, fast-paced, thoughtful, occasionally clumsy but always fascinating portrait of a time and place that is central to modern history.