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Every Man Dies Aloneby Hans Fallada
"Based on true-life events, Every Man Dies Alone is deeply compelling and endlessly heartbreaking in its depiction of the lives of everyday people living under an oppressive regime. Fallada adroitly floats from one character to the next, weaving a tapestry of interior dialogues and motivations. This novel recalls Dostoevsky's ability to feature a central protagonist, yet give life to the voices of other characters, never allowing a singularly dominating point of view." Gerry Donaghy, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
This never-before-translated masterpiece — by a heroic best-selling writer who saw his life crumble when he wouldn't join the Nazi Party — is based on a true story.
It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, they launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.
In the end, it's more than an edge-of-your-seat thriller, more than a moving romance, even more than literature of the highest order — it's a deeply stirring story of two people standing up for what's right, and each other.
"Fallada keeps readers engaged with passionate prose that rushes events along at a thriller-like pace. And there's stark grandeur in the closing chapters....A very welcome resurrection for a great writer crucified by history." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"The greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis." Primo Levi
"Fallada's description of the couple's stand against the Nazi machine read like a thriller, but it was also a fine-grained portrait of wartime Berlin and a moral tour de force." Very Short List
"Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone is one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels ever written about World War II. Ever. Fallada lived through the Nazi hell, so every word rings true — this is who they really were: the Gestapo monsters, the petty informers, the few who dared to resist. Please, do not miss this." Alan Furst, bestselling author of Kingdom of Shadows and The Spies of Warsaw
"[T]his novel...testifies to the lasting value of an intact, if battered, conscience....To read Every Man Dies Alone...is to be accompanied by a wise, somber ghost who grips your shoulder and whispers into your ear: 'This is how it was. This is what happened.'" Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
"Based on the Gestapo files of a real couple, Fallada's story is powerful and bleak, an anguished lament that resistance is necessary yet futile." Booklist
"Every Man Dies Alone [is] one of the most immediate and authentic fictional accounts of life during the long nightmare of Nazi rule." The New York Observer
This never-before-translated masterpiece is based on a true story. It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front.
About the Author
Hans Fallada was the pseudonym of Rudolph Ditzen, who was born in 1893 in Berlin, the son of a superior court judge. Prior to WWII, his novels were international bestsellers. But when Jewish producers in Hollywood made his 1932 novel, Little Man, What Now? into a major motion picture, the rising Nazis began to take note of him. His struggles increased after he refused to join the Party and was denounced by neighbors for “anti-Nazi” sympathies. Unlike many other prominent artists, however, Fallada decided not to flee Germany. By the end of World War II he’d suffered an alcohol-fueled nervous breakdown and was in a Nazi insane asylum, where he nonetheless managed to write—in code—the brilliant subversive novel, The Drinker. After the war, Fallada went on to write Every Man Dies Alone, based on an actual Gestapo file, but he died in 1947 of a morphine overdose, just before it was published.
About the Translator
Michael Hofmann is the translator of many of the twentieth century's leading authors in German, including Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, and Thomas Bernhard, and is the winner of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize.
Geoff Wilkes (Afterword) is a Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Queensland and perhaps the world's foremost English-speaking expert on Hans Fallada. He is the author of Hans Fallada's Crisis Novels 1931-1947.
About the Author
Hans Fallada was one of Germany's best-selling authors — ranking with Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse — prior to the rise of the Nazis. But while those writers fled Germany, Fallada stayed. Refusing to join the Nazi Party, he suffered numerous difficulties, including incarceration in an insane asylum. After the war, he wrote Every Man Dies Alone based on an actual Gestapo file. He died just before its publication in 1947.
Michael Hofmann, awarded the PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, teaches English at the University of Florida. He is the highly acclaimed translator of, among others, Kafka, Brecht, and Joseph Roth.
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