Synopses & Reviews
“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.
"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")
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.
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
About the Author
GÜNTER GRASS was born in Danzig, Germany, in 1927. He is the widely acclaimed author of numerous books, including The Tin Drum, My Century, Crabwalk, and Peeling the Onion. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.