Günter Grass: the man who broke the silence

Neal Ascherson

Don’t mourn for Günter Grass! Eat and drink for him, pork belly and black lentils and golden Westphalian beer. And then remember somebody else who can never die, and who seems now to stand for so much of Grass’s lust for real, bad-smelling, defiant life.

I mean his character Tulla Pokriefke, first met in Cat and Mouse and last seen in Crabwalk, his final novel. She starts as a scabby, dirty-minded teenager in wartime Danzig, who gets conscripted as a tram conductor. She ends up as an insufferable old matriarch in East Germany, suspect to everyone for speaking her mind, for blubbing over Stalin’s death and yet loudly defending the Nazi “Strength Through Joy” cruises for working-class families. Somebody in Crabwalk says: “That’s always been Tulla’s way. She says things other people don’t wish to hear. Of course she sometimes exaggerates just a bit.”


Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/18/gunter-grass-tributes-man-broke-silence

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