March 2, 2009
NY Times calls new Melville House book “A signal literary event of 2009”
by Dennis Johnson
“A signal literary event of 2009 has occurred,” declared yesterday’s New York Times Book Review. “This event is the belated appearance in English of the novel Every Man Dies Alone ….” from Melville House. The book was the last book by German writer Rudolph Ditzen, who wrote under the pen name Hans Fallada, and who died in 1947 of a morphine overdose. “Rescued from the grave, from decades of forgetting…[Every Man Dies Alone] testifies to the lasting value of an intact, if battered, conscience,” continued the review by Liesl Schillinger. “To read Every Man Dies Alone, Fallada’s testament to the darkest years of the 20th century, is to be accompanied by a wise, somber ghost who grips your shoulder and whispers in your ear: ‘This is how it was. This is what happened.'”
Schillinger also noted two other Fallada books books being reissued by Melville House in support of the new book, Little Man, What Now? and The Drinker, saying “In a publishing hat trick, Melville House allows English-language readers to sample Fallada’s vertiginous variety…[and] the keen vision of a troubled man in troubled times, with more breadth, detail and understanding…than most other chroniclers of the era have delivered.”
Hans Fallada’s son Ulrich Ditzen will appear with Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson in conversation with literary journalist (and former Book Forum head) Eric Banks in New York on Tuesday, March 3 to mark the official launch of the book. The free event will be held at Deutches Haus at NYU, 42 Washington Mews at 7 pm. For more info, go here.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him at @mobylives