Monday, 10 February 2014

Tales from the Underworld by Hans Fallada

Before I begin to say anything about this book I must say that I love the works of Hans Fallada. Alone in Berlin remains one of the best books I have ever read so I was delighted to see this collection of short stories by him. In all he wrote approximately 90 short stories during his writing career and this is a wonderful selection of them all written between 1925 and 1946, only three months prior to his death.

The stories are presented chronologically which adds an interesting dimension to the collection as I could see how Fallada developed as a writer as the stories progressed.  He clearly drew on his own knowledge of life in Germany and many of the stories reflect his own experiences.

Fallada, whose real name was Rudolf Ditzen, spent much of his life in prison, psychiatric hospitals and was addicted to morphine and these experiences enabled him to write these stories with a very dark clarity of observation.  These are not the imaginings of a writer but a reflection of the different times and aspects of his own life.

Admittedly, I am not a great lover of short stories and was drawn to this collection solely because I am a fan of the author.  I always feel frustrated with short stories because just as I am getting drawn into a story it is all over. Of course, that is just my opinion and I know many people really enjoy their fiction in this format.

That said, this collection is well worth reading.  They vary in length and my personal preference was for the longer ones.  Some are very short and  felt more like a sketch of a story that he planned to expound later.

All of the stories are concerned with life’s struggles.  They all focus around the lower echelons of society and illustrate the difficulties of life for those living in Germany during this difficult period of war and depression.  Stories of addiction and petty crime make these stories as relevant today as they were at the time.

I enjoyed reading these stories very much and I hope that you do too.  Please let me know your thoughts.

ISBN:  978-0141392851

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Price (based on Today’s price at Amazon) :  £11.99 for the kindle version

Savings so far:  £179.89

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