Monday, January 10, 2011

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

Every Man Dies Alone is a literary thriller based on an actual Gestapo case file about a German couple who secretly distributed anti-Nazi propaganda in Berlin during World War II, an act of resistance punishable by death.

Noir-like scenes from the novel include Anna Quangel waiting anxiously in the street while her husband Otto slips into a crowded Berlin office building to leave a postcard denouncing Hitler, and Gestapo Inspector Escherich escorting an informant to the city outskirts at night, handing the man a gun, and encouraging him to commit suicide.

First published in Berlin in 1947, Every Man Dies Alone was written in 24 days by Hans Fallada, a disturbed German writer who died of a morphine overdose before the book came out. The 544-page 2009 edition includes the first English-language translation of the novel, plus an afterword with excerpts from the original Gestapo file.

Hans Fallada was considered to be an "undesirable writer" by the Nazis in part because his earlier 1932 bestseller Little Man, What Now? had been made into a Hollywood movie by Jewish producers. By the end of the war, Fallada was imprisoned in an insane asylum where he wrote the anti-Nazi novel The Drinker by hiding the text within overlapping, handwritten script.

~Mike, Adult Services

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