Little Man What Now? Hans Fallada. Reviewed. In the Argo Catalog.
Hans Fallada is fast becoming one of my favorite writers. He is a perfect hybrid of Kafka and Dostoevsky. He delves into the psyche of a character in the way of the master of such tales, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Fallada goes further than Dusty, he doesn’t stop with an individual character or two, instead he uses his protagonist to capture the feel of a society and thus creates a world. The creation of the world reminds me of Kafka’s Castle. The scenery and society of Kafka has always struck me as especially vivid and where he has often felt lacking is in the emotional side of the individual. For those that know Fallada’s life story it will come as no surprise that the emotional side of his characters and the societies they function within is front and center.
In Little Man What Now? Fallada depicts a young man that is just starting a family. This normally great thing (and in the books there are many hints to suggest Fallada thinks that having a family is a good thing) is nearly a disaster for the man. Sadly for him, he lives in Germany and the depression is on, the National Socialists are gaining power but not yet in control and the economy is stagnant. A family is a risky proposition as the ability to support a family is far from guaranteed.
The book follows them through their trials and tribulations. It depicts a world of fear and deprivation. At one point a bartender mocks the main character for thinking that having a baby is a good thing. Fallada, ever the optimist, despite explaining exactly how the empty half of the glass looks, shows that living is always better than dying and that persevering is always worth it, even if everything is difficult and life never really gets easy. It is easier to know you are on the side of right, that you are doing what is good and best and having an extremely wearisome time of it.
If you have not yet read Hans Fallada and you are a fan of Coetzee, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Stegner, and literary writing then you need to run out to a local bookshop and buy a copy of at least one of his books. You will not regret it, you may even thank me for it.