Friday 16 October 2015

Review by Dips Patel of “Alone in Berlin” by Hans Fallada

Easily ranks as one of my all-time favourite books and is one of my “go-to” books whenever I’m asked to recommend a book to anyone who asks me, “I want something I can really get me teeth into.”

It’s probably better to describe this as “faction” – the story is littered with biographical details of the author (as is the case for a lot of his novels) and is about a couple who were opposed to the Nazi regime in Berlin. After their son is killed fighting for the Nazis, the couple embark on a campaign of dissent, writing anti-National Socialist slogans on postcards and then dropping them in the stairwells of apartment buildings around the city.

The book can be seen roughly in a split, the first half is about the couple and the effect the war has on them, their relationship, and their relationships with their family, friends and neighbours. The second half becomes a real cat-and-mouse thriller with the couple trying to evade the attentions of the Gestapo Inspector charged with finding and stopping them.

What makes this book, for me anyway, is that the couple the story revolves around were real (and in the paperback there are facsimile copies of documents on the couple as part of the Gestapo’s files on them, as well as copies of some of the postcards they created). The author knew of them but didn’t really know them personally as such, so this is a fictionalised account of who they were and what they did. An extraordinary novel, brutal, harrowing and exhausting you will remember this long after you’ve finished reading it.

About the reviewer
Dips Patel is a graduate in Graphic Design which means he can colour in without going over the lines and when he does he makes it look deliberate, cool and edgy. He much prefers fine art where the art of talking nonsense is finer still allowing him extremely moderate success in introducing his work to a wider audience. Hobbies include reading stuff, watching stuff, commendably misguided attempts at painting stuff and consuming copious amounts of coco pops, clementines, curries, cakes and cocktails, not all at the same time which is frowned upon in polite society.

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