One of my favorite German authors was until a year ago barely known in the United States. His name is Hans Fallada. Last March, he enjoyed a rediscovery, thanks to the Melville House publication in English of two novels, “Every Man Dies Alone” and “Little Man, What Now?” as well as his alcoholism memoir “The Drinker.” According to the New Yorker, Fallada completed the 500-page “Every Man Dies Alone” in four weeks in 1947. In addition to his excessive drinking, Fallada was also an addict. He spent many years in mental institutions, at times forced there by his opposition to Nazi orders to write anti-Semitic tracts. “Every Man” is one of the few novels I’ve read that brings Nazi Berlin to life in all its paranoia and degeneracy.
In a couple of months I’ll be doing a tour in Germany, so I’m eagerly reading German fiction before I go. Jessa Crispin of Bookslut.com is living in Berlin and she invited me to do a reading and discussion while I’m there. I’ve been a faithful reader of Jessa’s blog and I was happy to see that she too is a fan of Fallada. On Thursday April 8th she’ll be interviewing Fallada’s son at the Michellberger Hotel in conjunction with the English translation of another Fallada’s novel “Alone in Berlin.” The book is available at Dialogue Berlin, a bookstore there with a large selection of fiction in English. They too will be co-hosting my event at Cafe Hilde on May 28th.