Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. When unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France, they are shocked out of their quiet existence and begin a silent campaign of defiance. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo Inspector Escherich in Fallada's desperately tense and heartbreaking exploration of resistance in impossible circumstances.
Fallada assembles a cast of vivid low-life characters, stoolies, thieves and whores - James Buchan Guardian
Visceral, chilling ... has the suspense of a Le Carre novel New Yorker
A classic study of a paranoid society. Fallada's scope is extraordinary. Alone in Berlin is ... as morally powerful as anything I've ever read - Charlotte Moore Telegraph
First published in Germany in 1947 and evoking the horror of life in Germany in the Second World War. A rediscovered masterpiece that makes you want to seek out more works by this great chronicler of events in my own lifetime. Barry Humphries, Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph
The other fictional high point of 2009 was Alone in Berlin ... Hans Fallada's 1947 portrait of an ordinary German couple stung into a life of protest by the death of their soldier son is harrowing and masterly. - David Robson Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph
[This novel] suggests that resistance to evil is rarely straightforward, mostly futile and generally doomed. Yet to the novel's aching, unanswered question: 'Does it matter?' there is in this strange and compelling story to be found a reply in the affirmative. Primo Levi had it right: This is the great novel of German resistance. - Richard Flanagan
What Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise did for wartime France after six decades in obscurity, Fallada does for wartime Berlin. Roger Cohen, New York Times
[Alone in Berlin] has something of the horror of Conrad, the madness of Dostoyevsky and the chilling menace of Capote's In Cold Blood. Roger Cohen, New York Times
'Fallada's great novel, beautifully translated by the poet Michael Hofmann, evokes the daily horror of life under the Third Reich, where the venom of Nazism seeped into the very pores of society, poisoning every aspect of existence. It is a story of resistance, sly humour and hope' - Ben Macintyre The Times
'an extraordinary novel' Daily Express
A marvellous book, almost a masterpiece. The tension he maintains despite a fogegone conclusion is miraculous. This is the truest, most vivid I-was-there novel of the epoch. Norman Lebrecht
Hans Fallada was one of the best-known German writers of the twentieth century. Born in 1893 in Greifswald as Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen, he took his pen name from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. His most famous works include the novels Little Man, What Now? and The Drinker. Fallada died from an overdose of morphine on 5 February 1947 in Berlin.
Michael Hofmann is the author of several books of poems and a book of criticism, Behind the Lines, and the translator of many modern and contemporary authors. Penguin publish his translations of Kafka's Metamorphosis and Other Stories and Irmgard Keun's Child of All Nations.