No, we’re not really planning on writing Hans Fallada in at the voting booth — especially since he’s German, uninterested in the presidency, and seventy years dead. But his books, full of exhilaration and courage, make human-scale explorations of daily life in politically extreme times that have never been more relevant.
Every Man Dies Alone: Primo Levi called it “The greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis.” This rediscovered masterpiece, lost after World War II, was translated for the first time into English in 2009 by Melville House and became one of the most acclaimed books of the year. It presents a rich portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells a sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decide to take a stand. They launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.
Wolf Among Wolves: A sprawling saga of the collapse of a culture—including its economy and government—and the struggle of common people to survive it all. Set in Weimar Germany soon after World War I, the story follows a young gambler who flees Berlin, where worthless money and shortages are causing pandemonium, after losing everything. In the countryside, he finds a defeated German army that has decamped to foment insurrection. Somehow, amidst it all, he finds romance — it’s The Year of Living Dangerously in a European setting.
The Drinker: This astonishing, autobiographical tour de force was written by Hans Fallada in an encrypted notebook while he was incarcerated in a Nazi insane asylum. Discovered after his death, it tells the tale—often fierce, often poignant, often extremely funny—of a small businessman losing control as he fights valiantly to blot out an increasingly oppressive society.
Little Man, What Now?: Thomas Mann called it “painfully true to life.” Written just before the Nazis came to power, this darkly enchanting novel tells the story of a young couple trying to eke out a decent life amidst an economic crisis that’s transforming their country into a place of anger and despair. It was an international bestseller on its release, and made into a Hollywood movie — by Jewish producers, which prompted the rising Nazis to follow Hans Fallada’s career ominously closely, even as his novels held out stirring hope for the human spirit.
The Hans Fallada Resistance Tote: Black tote bag that doubles as a reminder of the First Rule of the Resistance: FIGHT BACK. On the front is a quote from Every Man Dies Alone; on the back, the Melville House logo. The slightly-longer-than-usual black cotton strap makes it easy to carry this on your shoulder. Perfect for carrying books and water to the protest, or, for that matter, to the beach.