German Author Gunter Grass Dies At 87, And It's A Big Loss For The Literary World
Germany has lost its arguably most famous living writer. According to his publishers, left-wing German author Günter Grass has died at age 87. Best known for his 1959 magical realism book The Tin Drum, Grass was the voice for many in his generation who grew up during World War II, speaking up against the Nazis and their atrocities. In 1999, Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Grass was born in what was then Danzig, or "The Free City of Danzig," in 1927, now a part of Poland. He began writing in 1950, publishing his first and best known work The Tin Drum in 1959. The Tin Drum is considered an innovation in literature, using the now-famous magical realism style, and it's the first novel in his Danzig trilogy, followed by Cat and Mouse and Dog Years. The trilogy centers around the rise of Nazi Germany and the unique perspective Danzig had on the war, and a film adaptation of the first book won an Academy Award in 1979.
Grass was as much a political figure as a writer, supporting the Social Democratic Party of Germany for much of his life and opposing a "hasty" reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact, the German Cultural Council called Grass "more than a writer ... a seismograph for society." However, his reputation took a hit in 2006 when he revealed that he was drafted into the Waffen-SS when he was a teenager. Grass was barely 12 when World War II broke, and he was forced to join the Hitler Youth at 14. These experiences likely lead to his powerful anti-Nazi messaging in his works.
The second tweet is from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who stated that he was "deeply dismayed" over the news.
No cause has been revealed yet for Grass' death.