Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

Hannah Arendt coined the term “the banality of evil” in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem about the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Nazi Germany’s final solution. Arendt found Eichmann a very small man, engaged in what was basically accounting. He did not have a grand vision for the world, he was just doing a job, an everyday civil servant engaged in carrying out … Continue reading Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

The Center of the World by Andreas Steinhofel

There is a lot of wish fulfillment in gay themed Young Adult fiction lately. The stereotypical coming out story used to have a tragic end; even in novels intended to promote acceptance of LGBT youth someone had to pay a price, often had to die. Nowadays, coming out is easy, in fiction anyway. Parents and friends still struggle to accept the main character, but this … Continue reading The Center of the World by Andreas Steinhofel

The Judge and the Hangman by Friedrich Durrenmatt

It is my personal belief that a truly great detective novel always opens with the discovery of a body. Friedrich Durrenmatt’s novella The Judge and the Hangman does just that. The body of a police inspector has been found in a car parked on a lonely road. The village police man who found it, drove the car into down, the body still in the passenger … Continue reading The Judge and the Hangman by Friedrich Durrenmatt

In Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Eugen Ruge’s novel In Times of Fading Light is a generational saga of a failed state, the story of one how one family lived through the lifespan of the German Democratic Republich (GDR) or East Germany as it’s known in the west. It’s an interesting if not quite compelling story. Narratively the novel is something of a jumble, which any readers may find  a challenge. The book … Continue reading In Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Baader-Meinhoff: The Inside Story of the R.A.F. by Stefan Aust

Baader-Meinhoff: The Inside Story of the R.A.F., Stefan Aust’s book about the Red Army Faction a terrorist group active in West Germany during the 1970’s, offers an interesting counterpoint to John Berger’s  From A to X.   While Mr. Berger’s novel asks readers to sympathize with a romantic vision of his characters, Mr. Aust’s non-fiction account of an actual terrorist organization makes sympathy for those involved nearly impossible.Andreas … Continue reading Baader-Meinhoff: The Inside Story of the R.A.F. by Stefan Aust

How to Torture a True Reader: Chess Story by Stefan Zweig

How does this sound for torture? The Gestapo locks you in a decent hotel room. It’s comfortable. A pretty good bed, a desk, a chair.  Three meals a day, neither too cold nor too hot.  You’re all alone but the Gestapo is leaving you alone. No physical harm comes to you. But there is nothing to read.  Not a single thing in the room with … Continue reading How to Torture a True Reader: Chess Story by Stefan Zweig

Christa Wolf vs. Grace Ogot

I know this comment will make me look like a snob but I’m going to make it anyway. It was so nice to read two stories that were so well written. I’ve read a wide range a short stories for the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge.  But it’s been a while since I read two stories that featured such good writing.  At the risk … Continue reading Christa Wolf vs. Grace Ogot

Brenner and God by Wolf Haas, translated from the German by Annie Janusch

The most unusual thing about Wolf Haas’s detective thriller Brenner and God, a novel not shy about tackling unusual things, is the narrator. What to make of the narrator?  It’s it a first person narrator or a third person narrator? See what you think: Now, what was it that Peinhaupt was going to casually ask the suspicious chauffeur?  How well he know Knoll, of course.  But there … Continue reading Brenner and God by Wolf Haas, translated from the German by Annie Janusch

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun

The author of After Midnight, Irmgard Keun, once sued the Gestapo. I’m not sure that we should admire her for this, but it certainly took guts. We can admire her for her novel After Midnight, a satirical look at life in Nazi era Germany, translated from the German by Anthea Bell. After Midnight is a very funny book, maybe I should say witty.  It didn’t … Continue reading After Midnight by Irmgard Keun

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Perfume by Patrick Suskind is one of the books I found through the BBC’s radio program A Good Read. Everyone on that week’s panel enjoyed the book and it sounded very interesting so I bought it. The novel follows a child born into abject poverty in 18th century France who rises to become the best perfumer in the country. The fly in the ointment, a … Continue reading Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann is a story of obsession and isolation. Aschenbach, a writer of rarefied fictions, takes a holiday to Venice where he sees a beautiful youth of 15 years. He is immediately taken in by the boy’s beauty and very quickly becomes obsessed with him. Aschenbach finds he is staying at the same hotel as the boy, so he studies the … Continue reading Death in Venice by Thomas Mann