“Böll has feelingly symbolized a guilty Germany doing penance for its sins through suffering and death.” —Time
Heinrich Böll’s taut and haunting first novel tells the story of twenty-four-year-old Private Andreas as he journeys on a troop train across the German countryside to the Eastern front. Trapped, he knows that Hitler has already lost the war … yet he is suddenly galvanized by the thought that he is on the way to his death.
As the train hurtles on, he riffs through prayers and memories, talks with other soldiers about what they’ve been through, and gazes desperately out the window at his country racing away. With mounting suspense, Andreas is gripped by one thought over all: Is there a way to defy his fate?
“The renewal of German literature, to which Heinrich Böll’s achievements witness, and of which they are a significant part, is not an experiment with form. Instead it is a rebirth out of annihilation, a resurrection, a culture which, ravaged by icy nights and condemned to extinction, sends up new shoots, blossoms, and matures to the joy and benefit of us all.” —The Nobel Prize Commitee
“Böll combines a mammoth intelligence with a literary outlook that is masterful and unique.”—Joseph Heller
“His work reaches the highest level of creative originality and stylistic perfection.”—The Daily Telegraph