Every Man Dies Alone July 17 2014, 0 Comments

Some books make you work for it. They're not easy, they're difficult, they're sprawling and slow and undecided. Until they're not. Until you feel the gigantic heart beating at its nervous center, its unabashed humanity and intelligence.

It took me 250 pages to fully get into this one, and suddenly it took a turn and I was hooked like never before by its vital urgency. The characters were full-fleshed, fully realized, flawed and magnificent at the same time. The novel rushed towards its inevitable conclusion with grace, the characters rushed towards their inescapable fate with a lucidity that leaves us in awe and teaches us a thing or two about the meaning of courage.

The author wrote this novel in 24 days and never lived to see its publication. According to the amazing bonus documents at the end of the paperback edition, Hans Fallada based his novel on a true story and was wondering whether the real acts of resistance of Otto and Elise Hampel had had any meaning. Their lives, the ordinariness, the smallness, the awkwardness of their resistance have more meaning than they will ever know.

Because it is absolutely essential for us, for all the generations that come after World War Two, to know that there was decency and good in some Germans in the face of evil.

An unforgettable book.