Literature: Günter Grass’s The Box

Title: The Box // Author: Günter Grass // Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt // Pub. Date: November 10, 2010 // 208 p.

Günter Grass’s The Box: Tales from the Darkroom is one of the more literary and imaginative books I’ve read lately. Sort of experimental in nature, this book’s main elements include a literary master, his family, an assistant, and her all-seeing camera. Grass writes in the voices of his eight children, and even though this book is a work of fiction, the story reveals the private life of a very public man— Günter Grass, himself, as a father, family man, and writer.

Grass is the German-born author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999. He is widely acclaimed for his numerous successful books, including The Tin Drum, My Century, Crabwalk, and Peeling the Onion, but in The Box, Grass becomes the character of a father, toiling away on these great works while his children grow up around him.

This storyline centers around the writer’s assistant, Marie, a photographer whose old-fashioned Agfa box camera takes snapshots that inspire the writer’s work, reveal shocking secrets, and even foretell the future. While the individual voices of the eight children and their families become muddled en masse, it’s Marie and the imagination surrounding her character that makes this book a pleasure to read.

To read my full review of this book on the About.com Contemporary Literature website, click here.

Photo credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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