Every Man Dies Alone
This never-before-translated masterpiece is based on a true story. It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front.
Biographical information: http://hansfallada.com/?cat=6
Publishers Weekly: This disturbing novel, written in 24 days by a German writer who died in 1947, is inspired by the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, who scattered postcards advocating civil disobedience throughout war-time Nazi-controlled Berlin. Their fictional counterparts, Otto and Anna Quangel, distribute cards during the war bearing antifascist exhortations and daydream that their work is being passed from person to person, stirring rebellion, but, in fact, almost every card is immediately turned over to authorities. Fallada aptly depicts the paralyzing fear that dominated Hitler's Germany, when decisions that previously would have seemed insignificant-whether to utter a complaint or mourn one's deceased child publicly-can lead to torture and death at the hands of the Gestapo. From the Quangels to a postal worker who quits the Nazi party when she learns that her son committed atrocities and a prison chaplain who smuggles messages to inmates, resistance is measured in subtle but dangerous individual stands. This isn't a novel about bold cells of defiant guerrillas but about a world in which heroism is defined as personal refusal to be corrupted.
BookList: In the early 1930s, Fallada was one of Germany's most popular novelists; his most famous work, (Little Man, What Now?, 1933) was also well-known in the U.S.; his works have since fallen into obscurity. This selection, one of three Fallada works to be published in English this spring, tells the story of Otto and Anna Quangel, a working-class couple who start planting subversive postcards around Berlin after their only son is killed in the war. Sought by the authorities and beset by nosy and opportunistic neighbors, Otto and Anna find the happiest moments of their marriage. But such moments are fleeting: the couple's luck runs out, and they are sent to prison to await their execution. Based on the Gestapo files of a real couple, Fallada's story is powerful and bleak, an anguished lament that resistance is necessary yet futile. Penned in just 24 days, this was Fallada's final work before dying of a morphine overdose; it may also be his most honest memoir of his life under the Nazis.--Driscoll, Brendan