More Lives than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada, By Jenny Williams

A tarnished legacy gets a timely repolish

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The Independent Culture

When Hans Fallada's thriller Alone in Berlin (1947) was translated into English for the first time three years ago, it became a surprise bestseller. Happily, the resurgence of interest in the German author has prompted the reissue of this excellent biography, first published in 1998.

Born in 1893, Fallada endured a troubled early life. He spent the 1920s in and out of jail, engaging in drug abuse and petty theft, before enjoying literary success. His legacy has been tarnished by his willingness to kowtow to Nazi censors in the 1930s – although he loathed Hitler's regime, he couldn't bring himself to flee into exile – but Williams argues that his storytelling talents are "unsurpassed in German literature", and warrant attention.