Nobody has painted such a cinematographic, touching and nuanced portrait of Germany before, during and after the Second World War as Hans Fallada. His writing kept rescuing him continuously from desperation, morphine and alcohol addiction like nobody else.
Who was the man behind the pseudonym Hans Fallada? And what did he conceal when he declared: ‘Everything in my life ends up in a book.’ Fallada had a tumultuous youth, shot his best friend, was thrown in jail a few times and ended up in psychiatric care numerous times. Even though he made a career as a farmer, he always knew he wanted to be a writer. Kleiner Mann, was nun? is what made him famous in 1932 – yet throughout his life, he kept identifying with the pauper who constantly made the wrong decisions. It’s the Kleiner Mann about and for whom he wrote his books.
Anne Folkertsma has meticulously studied Fallada’s correspondence and diaries – showing how he became a reader’s favourite in the early thirties and one of the five most translated German authors ever. She explains how he tried to continue his work in Germany throughout the Second World War but increasingly became a string puppet of the times in which he lived.
The three intrusive stories by Hans Fallada about his writing are an extraordinary complement to Anne Folkertsma’s biography.