“Peeling the Onion” by Gunter Grass

Book coverWikipedia includes this information:

Günter Wilhelm Grass, born 1927, is a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely regarded as Germany’s most famous living writer.

Grass was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). In 1945, he came to West Germany as a homeless refugee, though in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.

Peeling the Onion, published in 2006, is an autobiographical work, which begins with the end of Grass’s childhood when the Second World War breaks out, and ends with the author finishing his first great literary success, The Tin Drum.

Tim Gardam reviewed this in the Guardian in June 2007:

Gunter Grass’s Peeling the Onion caused a furore when published in Germany; now available in English, it demands to be read.

This is a book torn between the desire to confess and the need to obscure. When Peeling the Onion was published in Germany last year, Gunter Grass faced a hailstorm of disdain after he revealed that in the dying months of the Second World War he had been enlisted, aged 17, into the Waffen SS. Germany’s radical conscience of the Cold War years, the Danzig-born champion of the Poles, the righteous polemicist who had torn at Germans’ denial of their collective memory of Nazism, had suppressed the crucial fact of his personal complicity. Coming clean now, his adversaries charged, was no more than calculation – controlling the damage before others exposed the truth.

We read this in July 2013.

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