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This chilling and unforgettable novel, which shows how easily a life can be ruined when the police, and more significantly, the media, are allowed to run rampage, resonates as strongly today as it did in 1970s Germany.
Heinrich Boll was one of the trio of great German writers (along with Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse) who have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Boll was born in Cologne in 1917 and brought up in a liberal Catholic pacifist family. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he served on the Russian and French fronts and was wounded four times before he found himself in an American prisoner-of-war camp. After the war he enrolled at the University of Cologne, but dropped out to write about his shattering experience as a soldier. His first novel, The Train Was on Time, was published in 1949, and he went on to become one of the most prolific and important of post-war German writers. His best-known novels include Billiards at Half-past Nine, Children are Civilians Too, Group Portrait with Lady, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, And Never Said a Word and The Safety Net. Boll served for several years as president of International P.E.N. and was a leading defender of the intellectual freedom of writers throughout the world. He died in 1985.
"Boll sustains a masterly and insidious tension to the end. He is detached, angry and totally in control" * The Times * "Such is the force of Boll's conviction, the clarity of his vision and the icy economy of his unemotive prose that within this short space he has distilled a spirit that burns into the palate the unmistakeable and lasting tang of truth" * Sunday Times * "A marvel of compression and irony" * Sunday Telegraph *