Synopses & Reviews
“Once upon a time there was a father who, because he had grown old, called together his sons and daughters—four, five, six, eight in number—and finally convinced them, after long hesitation, to do as he wished. Now they are sitting around a table and begin to talk . . .”
In an audacious literary experiment, Günter Grass writes in the voices of his eight children as they record memories of their childhoods, of growing up, of their father, who was always at work on a new book, always at the margins of their lives. Memories contradictory, critical, loving, accusatory—they piece together an intimate picture of this most public of men. To say nothing of Marie, Grasss assistant, a family friend of many years, perhaps even a lover, whose snapshots taken with an old-fashioned Agfa box camera provide the author with ideas for his work. But her images offer much more. They reveal a truth beyond the ordinary detail of life, depict the future, tell what might have been, grant the wishes in visual form of those photographed. The children speculate on the nature of this magic: was the enchanted camera a source of inspiration for their father? Did it represent the power of art itself? Was it the eye of God?
Recalling J. M. Coetzees Summertime and Umberto Ecos The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, The Box is an inspired and daring work of fiction. In its candor, wit, and earthiness, it is Grass at his best.
"It may not be a memoir, but it is an exercise in soul-searching…this is a novel of great humility, questioning whether the measure of a life really is a lifes work... [Grass] shows a remarkable willingness to kick a hole in the usual self-importance of a prize-winning author."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Functioning both as experimental fiction and as a sequel of sorts to Peeling the Onion, Grasss latest sheds light on a role the revered German author has thus far only touched upon: fatherhood."
- Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A family documentary in the form of a novel, leaving the reader to decide where the line blurs between fact and fiction…A short, engaging and puzzling novel: “He simply dreams us up!” says a daughter, as the reader wonders what to make of these dreams.”
- Kirkus Reviews
"The Box offers "the spectacle of a superb writer examining with playful seriousness and intelligent candor the relations between his work and the past."
-Boston Globe "Freed from the defensive crouch of his straightforward memoir, Grass has produced something more obscure and occasionally just as beautiful."
-The Daily Beast
"Is writing in this way the act of a generous father, maybe even a penitent one, or of a tyrannical egotist? This ambiguity is what gives The Box its modest but genuine power."
-Adam Kirsch, Slate
"The Box moves between the voices of his eight children, in whose collage-like recollections their elusive father-- along with a mysterious woman whose Agfa box camera is an almost magical source of inspiration-- takes shape."
-Vogue ("Fall's Best Memoirs")
PRAISE FOR CRABWALK
"In a mere 216 pages, German author Günter Grass has delivered a blockbuster novel, shed a reputation for resting on 40-year-old laurels, reconciled left and right factions long at odds over the Nazi past and exposed a World War II tragedy virtually buried for half a century."--Los Angeles Times
"Grass's blockbuster ... refocuses attention on his nation's Nazi past and exposes a World War II tragedy buried for half a century."--New York Post
"By far the best Grass book in years."--Die Welt (Germany)
"The images of the sinking ship are more thrilling and astounding than the Titanic."--Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (Germany)
It is the work of a seasoned craftsman, certain of what he wants to do, completely in control of his gifts."-The New York Times Book Review
A perfect instrument for tracing echoes and parallels across German writing and history . . . No other German novelist could have pulled off such a feat."
A rich, troubling work that offers incontrovertible evidence of this great writer's undiminished artistry, integrity, and passion."-Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Grass has succeeded in setting down monuments to those dog days of division, with their linguistic shifts and iconography, rapidly changing cast of characters, uncertainty, and exhilaration.-the Times Literary Supplement (london)
"A broad and wonderful novel, full of surprising twists, grotesque jokes, and mocking reflections about Germany's fate over the last 150 years."-Polityka (Poland)
"Grass's novel is a perfect instrument for tracing echoes and parallels across German writing and history...no other German novelist could have pulled off such a feat."-The Economist
“It is impossible not to be impressed by [Grasss] inexhaustible desire to experiment with the novel and by the many good stories and passages of exquisite writing in The Box
.”—Charles Simic, New York Review of Books
In this inspired and daring work of fiction, Günter Grass writes in the voices of his eight children as they record memories of their childhoods, of growing up, and especially of their father, who was always at work on a new book, always at the margins of their lives. Memories contradictory, happy, loving, accusatory—they piece together an intimate picture of this most public of men. To say nothing of Marie, a photographer and family friend of many years, perhaps even a lover, whose snapshots taken with an old-fashioned Agfa box camera provide the author with ideas for his work. But her images offer much more than simple replication. They reveal a truth beyond ordinary life, depict the future, tell what might have been, grant the wishes of those photographed. The children speculate on the nature of this magic: Was the enchanted camera a source of inspiration for their father? Did it represent the power of art itself? Was it the eye of God? An audacious literary experiment, The Box is Grass at his best.
The Tin Drum, one of the great novels of the twentieth century, was published in Ralph Manheim’s outstanding translation in 1959. It became a runaway bestseller and catapulted its young author to the forefront of world literature.This edition, translated by Breon Mitchell, is more faithful to Grass’s style and rhythm, restores omissions, and reflects more fully the complexity of the original work. After more than fifty years, The Tin Drum has, if anything, gained in power and relevance. All of Grass’s amazing evocations are still there, and still amazing: Oskar Matzerath, the indomitable drummer; his grandmother, Anna Koljaiczek; his mother, Agnes; Alfred Matzerath and Jan Bronski, his presumptive fathers. And Oskar’s midget friends—Bebra, the great circus master, and Roswitha Raguna, the famous somnambulist; Sister Scholastica and Sister Agatha, the Right Reverend Father Wiehnke, the Greffs, the Schefflers, Herr Fajngold, all Kashubians, Poles, Germans, and Jews—waiting to be discovered and rediscovered.
From the Nobel Prize-winning author of My Century and The Tin Drum, a novel of broad historical proportions set in Berlin during the years of German reunification.
Two old men roam through Berlin observing life in the former German Democratic Republic after the fall of the Wall in 1989. Theo Wuttke, a former East German functionary, is a keen observer and a gifted speaker. Ludwig Hoftaller is a mid-level spy whose loyalties shift with each new regime. Together, both men see what the future is bringing as they try to save what they can from the past and understand the meaning of being German.
A complex and challenging exploration of what Germany's reunification will mean-for Germans, for Europe, and for the world-Too Far Afield is a masterwork from one of Europe's greatest writers. Written with the wit, fantasy, literary erudition, and political acerbity for which Grass is celebrated, it is a deeply human story laced with pain and humor in equal measure.
In a work of great originality, Germany's most eminent writer examines the victories and terrors of the twentieth century, a period of astounding change for mankind. Great events and seemingly trivial occurrences, technical developments and scientific achievements, war and disasters, and new beginnings, all unfold to display our century in its glory and grimness. A rich and lively display of Grass's extraordinary imagination, the 100 interlinked stories in this volume-one for each year from 1900 to 1999-present a historical and social portrait for the millennium, a tale of our times in all its grandeur and all its horror.
Memories from Grass's children
One of the greatest modern novels, THE TIN DRUM is the story of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and who, as the novel begins, is being held in a mental institution. Matzerath provides a profound yet hilarious perspective on both German history and the human condition in the modern world.
Günter Grass tells us a story for every year of our century. He writes of great events and seemingly trivial occurrences, of technical developments and scientific discoveries, of achievements in culture and sports, of megalomania, of persecution and murder, of war and disasters, and of new beginnings. Although each story has a different narrator, collectively the stories form a complete and linear narrative in which the individual is the focus. As the sequence unfolds, a lively and rich picture emerges, an historical portrait of this millennium in all its grandeur and in all its horror. One hundred stories come full circle to create a novel of our century.
Günter Grass has been wrestling with Germany's past for decades now, but no book since The Tin Drum
has generated as much excitement as this engrossing account of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff
. A German cruise ship turned refugee carrier, it was attacked by a Soviet submarine in January 1945. Some 9,000 people went down in the Baltic Sea, making it the deadliest maritime disaster of all time.
Born to an unwed mother on a lifeboat the night of the attack, Paul Pokriefke is a middle-aged journalist trying to piece together the tragic events. While his mother sees her whole existence in terms of that calamitous moment, Paul wishes their life could have been less touched by the past. For his teenage son, who dabbles in the dark, far-right corners of the Internet, the Gustloff embodies the denial of Germany's wartime suffering.
"Scuttling backward to move forward," Crabwalk is at once a captivating tale of a tragedy at sea and a fearless examination of the ways different generations of Germans now view their past.
Winner of the Nobel Prize
Two old men roam through Berlin observing life in the former German Democratic Republic after the fall of the Wall in 1989. The men are Theo Wuttke, a former East German cultural functionary, keen observer, and gifted speaker; and Ludwig Hoftaller, a mid-level spy who can serve the Prussian police, or the Gestapo, or the East German Stasi with equal dedication. Both men are employed by the Treuhand-the agency in charge of privatizing former East German state enterprises-which occupies the building in Berlin that was once the headquarters of Goering's Air Ministry. Wuttke, in his capacity as file courier, desperately tries to save the old-fashioned elevator, which has carried the famous and powerful up-and down again. And he comforts the disheartened head of the agency, who seeks relief from the burdens of office by roller skating around the corridors at night. This novel will stand as perhaps the most complex and challenging exploration of what Germany's recent reunification will mean-for Germans, for Europeans, for the world. Grass writes with the wit, fantasy, literary erudition, and political acerbity for which he is celebrated. And in his inimitable fashion, he tells a deeply human story laced with pain and humor in equal measure.
About the Author
The Tin Drum, one of the great novels of the twentieth century, was published in Ralph Manheim's outstanding translation in 1959. It became a runaway bestseller and catapulted its young author to the forefront of world literature.To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original publication, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, along with Grasss publishers all over the world, is bringing out a new translation of this classic novel. Breon Mitchell, acclaimed translator and scholar, has drawn from many sources: from a wealth of detailed scholarship; from a wide range of newly-available reference works; and from the author himself. The result is a translation that is more faithful to Grasss style and rhythm, restores omissions, and reflects more fully the complexity of the original work.
After fifty years, THE TIN DRUM has, if anything, gained in power and relevance. All of Grasss amazing evocations are still there, and still amazing: Oskar Matzerath, the indomitable drummer; his grandmother, Anna Koljaiczek; his mother, Agnes; Alfred Matzerath and Jan Bronski, his presumptive fathers; Oskars midget friendsBebra, the great circus master and Roswitha Raguna, the famous somnambulist; Sister Scholastica and Sister Agatha, the Right Reverend Father Wiehnke; the Greffs, the Schefflers, Herr Fajngold, all Kashubians, Poles, Germans, and Jewswaiting to be discovered and re-discovered.
Günter Grass was born in Danzig, Germany, in 1927 and is the widely acclaimed author of numerous novels, plays, poems, and essays. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999. He lives in Germany.
Breon Mitchell is Professor of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, where he is also Director of the Lilly Library. A Rhodes Scholar, he received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Oxford University. His areas of specialization include literary translation, Anglo-German literary relations, literature and the visual arts, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Samuel Beckett.
Table of Contents
The Wide Skirt 3
Under the Raft 13
Moth and Light Bulb 26
The Photo Album 38
Glass, Glass, Little Glass 50
The Schedule 61
Rasputin and the ABCs 72
Long-Distance Song Effects from the Stockturm 84
The Grandstand 96
Shop Windows 111
No Miracle 121
Good Friday Fare 133
Tapering toward the Foot 146
Herbert Truczinskis Back 155
Faith Hope Love 181
Scrap Metal 193
The Polish Post Office 205
House of Cards 219
He Lies in Saspe 229
Fizz Powder 253
Special Communiqués 264
Carrying My Helplessness to Frau Greff 274
Seventy-five Kilos 287
Bebras Theater at the Front 299
Inspecting Concrete??or Mystical Barbaric Bored 310
The Imitation of Christ 327
The Dusters 341
The Christmas Play 352
The Ant Trail 364
Should I or Shouldnt I 377
Growth in a Boxcar 400
Flintstones and Gravestones 413
Fortuna North 428
Madonna 49 440
The Hedgehog 453
In the Wardrobe 466
On the Coco Rug 487
The Onion Cellar 497
On the Atlantic Wall or Bunkers Cant Cast Off Concrete 512
The Ring Finger 527
The Last Tram or Adoration of a Canning Jar 538
Thirty 553 Translators Afterword 565