Reading group reviews: Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
14 May 2012 / 0 Comments
We gave away reading group sets of Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. If your reading group or book club has read the book, please do use this page to post your reviews and see what other reading group members think of it.
About the book
Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways - the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks ...
About the author
Hans Fallada was one of the best-known German writers of the twentieth century. Born in 1893 in Greifswald as Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen, he took his pen name from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. His most famous works include the novels Little Man, What Now? and The Drinker. Fallada died from an overdose of morphine on 5 February 1947 in Berlin.
About the translator
Michael Hofmann is the author of several books of poems and a book of criticism, Behind the Lines, and the translator of many modern and contemporary authors. Penguin publish his translations of Kafka's Metamorphosis and Other Stories and Irmgard Keun's Child of All Nations.
The group were very interested to read of life from the ordinary German citizen's point of view and to appreciate that the harsh Nazi regime was feared as much by their own people as by those with whom they were at war. There was some discussion about the quality of the translation, with opinions divided. Very atmospheric; you really felt the fear.
Although there are many, many war books to choose from, there are few that place you so vividly in the minds of the German people. We highly recommend Alone in Berlin.
Southampton City Libraries' Reading Group
We found this a fascinating read and a very thought provoking one. It is difficult to imagine what you would do in similar circumstances and this book certainly made us think about how we would react when living in such times. The notes at the end of the book were interesting and also the author biography. One of the members' husband had listened to the audio book of this title and found it disjointed and confusing- but we had no problems with either the flow of the story or the translation- occasional phrases showed that the translator had not quite done his job- but it didn't spoil the story in any way. We are very glad to have read this!
Barnsley's Central Library Readers Group
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