New to Penguin Classics, a crackling new translation by Michael Hofmann of the great novel of 1920s Berlin life.The subject of this book is the life of the former cement-worker and haulier Franz Biberkopf in Berlin. As our story begins, he has just been released from prison, where he did time for some stupid stuff, and now he is back in Berlin, determined to go straight.To begin with, he succeeds. But then he gets involved in a set-to with an unpredictable external agency that looks an awful lot like fate.To see and hear this will be worthwhile for many readers who, like Franz Biberkopf, fill out a human skin, but, again like Franz Biberkopf, happen to want more from life than a piece of bread...
Alfred Doblin, one of the great figures of German modernism, was born in 1878 to a Jewish family. He moved to Berlin at the age of ten, where he remained for the next 45 years. Doblin's 1929 masterpiece Berlin Alexanderplatz made him famous, but he was forced to flee to France and then Los Angeles during the years of the Nazi dictatorship. He died in 1957. Michael Hofmann is a poet and translator from the German. For Penguin he has translated four books by Hans Fallada, in addition to works by Franz Kafka, Ernst Junger, Irmgard Keun and Jakob Wassermann.