Here’s a really good obit of Grass, whose death I just heard about. What a crazy life.
“Amongst Grass’s role models were German writer Alfred Döblin, Irish novelist James Joyce and other leading storytellers of the 20th century. Along with Siegfried Lens, Heinrich Böll and Uwe Johnson, he was a decisive voice in German postwar literature and made a significant contribution to a literary engagement with the traumas of 20th century history.
Grass’s world reputation does not rest alone on his epic fiction works, above all his début novel The Tin Drum. The fact that he continuously expressed his opinions on contemporary political issues, posed awkward questions and provided answers to them, invariably encountering strong criticism from sections of the media and politicians, was closely bound up with his artistic work.
With his critical perspective on society and history, the novelist attempted to break through the vale of forgetting and cover-up propagated by the postwar political establishment in Germany. It is testament to Grass’s steadfastness that his list of opponents ranged from leading figures in the Adenauer era (Konrad Adenauer was chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963), when many old Nazis held high positions within the state and in business, to prominent politicians and media personalities in the present day.”