Thursday, May 5, 2011

Danziger Trilogie by Gunter Grass.

Danziger Trilogie by Gunter Grass.  Hardcover book published 1980.

Gunter Grass’s Danzig Trilogy (The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse, Dog Years) are true classics of modern German Literature.  Indeed, The Tin Drum (the first book) was voted one of the best German novels of the twentieth century*.  Berlin Alexanderplatz also made the list and I would like to add that I would have voted for both of them… that is if anyone had of asked me.  I have read the Danzig trilogy (in English of course) and many other GG titles (that’s Gunter Grass… not Graham Greene) and I find that his books seem to have stuck with me.  They are not easily forgotten. This is something I like in a book and to be honest there aren’t many contemporary writers who seem to have this ability (my humble opinion).   

“Strange to say, I expected more from literature than from real, naked life.” Gunther Grass

Set in a surreal wartime Germany, or maybe that’s what Germany was like at the time, these books are epic and confronting, which I guess is why they stick in my mind… and I guess this is why some people don’t like them.  There are those who think Grass’s work is garbage (you know who you are) and there are those who would give him the Nobel Prize for literature.  I personally would give him the prize.

So this collection of the 3 books in one volume is of interest because it’s in German.  I wrote a while ago about how difficult it is to sell foreign language titles. 

“So why pick this one up?” you ask.
“Well Mr. Grass is a popular writer and these books are a fantastic read.” I reply.
“But Huc, or Gabet, or which ever one you are, you’ve indicated that you’ve had limited success selling foreign language titles in the past.”
“Ah yes, but I have managed to sell Gunter in the original German.”
“Then WHY have you mentioned having difficulty selling foreign language titles?”
“… ummm, ummm… that was more of a general comment, not meant as a golden rule.”

To be honest, the other Gunther Grass that I sold wasn’t on the www.  It was at Booktown last year (yes this is another blatant plug for this event).  It was a lovely sealed box set of paperbacks. So I do know there is some interest, but like all fiction, I find it hard to sell it on the www.  With Gunther’s reputation and position as one of the great writer’s of the post war period, I feel pretty confident that if I can’t sell this on ebay, I can sell it elsewhere.

Finally, anyone out there who hasn’t read The Tin Drum, you should… even in English it’s a masterpiece.

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