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In pre-Nazi Germany, Hans Fallada (the pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen, derived from Brothers Grimm tales) was a best-selling author on a par with Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse. His 1932 novel, Little Man, What Now?, was even adapted by Hollywood. But, unlike several of his literary peers, Fallada refused to flee when Hitler took over. And while he did accommodate the demands of Josef Goebbels in some regards, he refused to edit Little Man to meet Nazi approval and ended up drinking his way into an asylum after a fight with his wife ended in gunfire. While there, he surreptitiously wrote a novel called The Drinker under cover of penning an anti-Semitic work for his captors.

By the end of the war he was a broken man and was periodically institutionalized with a morphine addiction. A friend sought to lift his spirits and provide him with interesting material by supplying him with the police files on a real-life couple who had resisted the Nazis. Elise and Otto Hampel created a furor by littering Berlin with postcards on which they'd written anti-Nazi messages. They managed to get away with their prankish resistance for several years before being caught and executed. Fallada took just 24 days to turn their story into a novel that he completed shortly before he died in 1947, of an overdose.

Anna and Otto Quangel begin their own card campaign after their son is killed in France, though they later learn that almost every one of the nearly 300 missives was immediately turned over to the authorities. Thus is even their minor resistance ultimately quite futile. However, what the book captures is just how difficult it was for even decent Germans to take such small steps, paralyzed, as they were, by fear of the regime. More than that, Fallada depicts the sense of self-loathing that the failure to do more engendered in people. The book flows from Fallada's own despair and makes for a very harrowing read, but it's remarkable the way the Quangel's smallish rebellion and the discrete kindnesses of others along the way take on an epic heroic quality.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

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Political Fiction
Hans Fallada Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Hans Fallada
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Hans Fallada (IMDB)
    -BIO: Hans Fallada (Kirjasto)
    -BIO Hans Fallada (NY Times)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Hans Fallada (Random House)
    -BOOK SITE: Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House Publishing)
    -EXCERPT: First Chapter: ‘Every Man Dies Alone’
    - PROFILE: Hans Fallada is resurrected in the U.S.: A talk with the author's son on the occasion of three of the late German writer's books being published in new English editions. (Matthew Shaer, March 22, 200, LA Times)
    -PROFILE: The Human Comedy: Reintroducing Hans Fallada (Nathan Ihara, April 29, 2009, LA Weekly)
    -ROUNDTABLE: A conversation about German writer Hans Fallada: with Liesl Schillinger, Dennis Johnson and Ulrich Ditzen (Charlie Rose, April 14, 2009)
    -PROFILE: Rediscovering Hans Fallada: An author of classic German works gets his due in English via Melville House (Judith Rosen, 10/13/08, Publishers Weekly)
    -ESSAY: Hans Fallada's Breakthrough (Harry Bergholz, January 1956, The German Quarterly)
    -
   
-REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Alan Furst, Globe & Mail)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (LIESL SCHILLINGER, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (KATHERINE A. POWER, B&N Review)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Gerry Donaghy, Powell's)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (James Martin, NY Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (David D'Arcy, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Allan Massie, Scotland on Sunday)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Sam Munson, The National)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Chris Schuler, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (James Buchan, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Hugo Hamilton, Financial Times)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Charlotte Moore, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (John Powers, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Ian Brunskill, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Tom Deveson, Sunday Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Common Reader)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Norman Price, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (PRI: The World)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Joshua Billings, Oxonian Review)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Carlo Wolff, St. Petersburg Times)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Chad W. Post, Three Percent)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Charlotte Bence, Socialist Review)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (MICHAEL J. BONAFIELD, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Bookmarks)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Caroline Moore, Standpoint)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Michael Autrey, The Oregonian)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Matthew Shaer, The Tablet)
    -REVIEW: of Every Man Dies Alone (Paramita Ghosh, Hindustan Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Drinker by Hans Fallada (Nick Parish, BoldType)

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