On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. While beating his tin drum he recounts his extraordinary life in this classic and essential German novel.
Gunter Grass, born in Danzig in 1927, is Germany's most celebrated contemporary writer. He is a creative artist of remarkable versatility: novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, graphic artist. Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.
German Nobel laureate Grass burst onto the literary scene in 1959 with what many consider one of the best postwar novels to that date. Grass recounts here the story of Oskar Mazerath, who knew he did not want to be born while still in utero. Nevertheless, Oskar makes his first appearance in the prewar free city of Danzig (now Polish Gdan'sk) like an uber-enfant terrible and begins a series of (mis)adventures with his symbol, the tin drum, that lead him through the Nazi era and beyond. One more extraordinary thing about Oskar is that at age three he refuses to grow anymore. Verdict This reviewer did not have access to the German text in comparing this new translation with the original, by Ralph Manheim. The Mitchell translation might be said to be somewhat smoother, a bit more contemporary in feeling, but there is a heft to the original lacking here. Grass actually collaborated with several translators, including Mitchell, in producing new translations in various languages. Either translation is highly recommended to those who love world literature, though smaller libraries shouldn't feel rushed to replace the initial translation. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]-Edward Cone, New York Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"This is a big book in every sense, full of extraordinary scenes and characters: even on a single reading it seems prodigally rich in comic invention, and demands to be worried at time and again" -- Julian Mitchell Sunday Times "Grass wrote with fury, love, derision, slapstick, pathos - all with an unforgiving conscience" -- John Irving "Grass is one of the master fabulists of our age" -- Michael Ratcliffe The Times "The novel is as monstrous as its hero, pullalating with a kind of anti-life... Gunter Grass may have written the nearest thing to a literary masterpiece his generation is capable of producing" -- David Lodge Spectator "Funny, macabre, disgusting, blasphemous, pathetic, horrifying, erotic, it is an endless delirium, an outrageous phantasmagoria in which dust from Goethe, Hans Andersen, Swift, Rabelais, Joyce, Aristophanes and Rochester dances on the point of a needle in the flame of a candle that was not worth the game" Daily Telegraph