cover image From Germany to Germany: Journal of the Year 1990

From Germany to Germany: Journal of the Year 1990

Günter Grass, trans. from the German by Krishna Winston. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-547-36460-5

With many period-specific references to modern German culture, most explained in useful identifying endnotes (presumably supplied by supple translator Winston), this memoir, covering 13 months of the key period of German unification, knowingly re-creates an era of doubts and hopes. Grass, Nobel Prize–winning author of The Tin Drum, finds himself engaged and coming to grips with well-known themes, such as the legacy of the Holocaust, as well as with contemporary events, such as the Persian Gulf War. Grass sensitively yet realistically contemplates the fate of the GDR citizen, this time set up to be duped by the instruments of West German capitalism. Election day (December 2, 1990), happens to be the first day of Advent, a time for sober reflection—a capper on a guilt-swept century. Drawings by the author are help to ground him, as does verbal creation. As Grass writes, “I am positively itching for the imponderable process of writing, a process with laws all its own that I am glad to submit to, though not without anxiety.” Drawings. (Nov.)