A Small Circus by Hans Fallada
A Small Circus is a powerful 1931 portrayal of a German town on the brink of chaos, from bestselling author Hans Fallada (writer of Alone in Berlin)
It is summer, 1929, and in a small German town a storm is brewing. The shabby reporter Tredup leads a precarious existence working for the Pomeranian Chronicle - until he takes some photographs that offer the chance to make a fortune. In Kruger's bar, the farmers are plotting their revenge on greedy officials. A mysterious travelling salesman from Berlin , Henning, is stirring up trouble - but no one knows why. Meanwhile the Nazis grow stronger and the Communists fight them in the streets. And at the centre of it all, the Mayor, 'Fatty' Gareis, seeks the easy life even as events spiral beyond his control.
As tensions erupt between workers and bosses, town and country, Left and Right, alliances are broken, bribes are taken and plots are hatched, until the tension spills over into violence.
'Uncommonly vivid and original' Robert Musil
'Real love and real humanity' Hermann Hesse
'The best account of small-town Germany ... so terribly genuine, it is frightening' Kurt Tucholsky
'This novel's genius ... lies in Fallada's ability to reveal ... as well as to analyse the macabre game of musical chairs that was the Weimar Republic. Fallada gives us front-row seats to Germany's decade-long quest for a sacrificial scapegoat that culminated in the Nazi takeover ... Two years after Alone in Berlin's runaway success, A Small Circus continues the Fallada revival that owes so much to the efforts of its translator, the poet Michael Hofmann' Andre Naffis-Sahely, Independent
'Fallada creates characters with Dickensian prodigality, each yokel, hack, pig and pen-pusher brought to life in Michael Hofmann's beautifully judged translation ... a generous, life-affirming treat' Jake Kerridge, Telegraph
'Michael Hofmann ... comes as close as possible to giving us Fallada's work in all its coarse, humorous, immediate, tragic glory' Charlotte Moore, Spectator
'Not for the first time, all praise is due to Michael Hofmann's art and feel for nuance. His translation catches the many voices - some exasperated, others bewildered, a few downright angry - that make this bold, exuberant and candid narrative sizzle with life and the relentlessly shocking reality of it all' Irish Times
'Fallada's own experiences as a regional journalist in north Germany underlie the action, and it is this sense of realism, combined with an ear for dialogue and an acute understanding of human frailty, that make the novel such an authentic portrayal of an imploding era' Ben Hutchinson, Observer