Not that I’m not enjoying the still-continuing flurry of publishing activity around the late Roberto Bolaño, but it would be remiss of me not to mention, Hans Fallada, my new favourite dead-author-in-translation (aka this year’s Bolaño). As Lee Rourke points out, Melville House have published three of Fallada’s books, Every Man Dies Alone (published by Penguin in the UK as Alone in Berlin, as reviewed by John Self), Little Man, What Now? and The Drinker, with three more on the way. From the L.A. Times:
The campaign represents something of a calculated risk for Melville House and its publishers, Dennis Loy Johnson and Valerie Merians. Although historical fiction like Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky has proved popular in recent years, there is no guarantee that Fallada’s fiction – sprawling, dark and densely observed – will appeal to modern audiences.
Johnson was first tipped off to Fallada’s writing a few years ago, by a friend, the designer Diane von Furstenberg. He tracked down a few titles, but others proved elusive; eventually, he took a trip to Germany. “Every time I’d finish one of the books,” he said, “I’d think, ‘Why is this out of print?’ I was shocked that I’d never read these books. And now we’ve got the chance to get them out there.”
First posted: Monday, September 21st, 2009.