I’ve been mulling this over for the past couple of weeks – ever since I dropped a casual question here.

Indeed, there seems to be enough interest to warrant starting up a readalong. So in 2010 let’s do it and read an European masterpiece together.

Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum , first published in 1959 was recently retranslated into English by Breon Mitchell.  All the reviews I’ve read of this new translation are superlative.  So that’s the version I’ll be reading this time around.  I have already read Die Blechtrommel in the German (it took me many, many months ….) and the first English translation by Ralph Manheim, which seemed perfectly fine to me but has been bettered by this new version.

The Tin Drum is a seminal piece of European magic realism. Amazingly probably the only piece of magic realism I’ve ever got to grips with.  Here’s the summary from fantasticfiction:   Bitter and impassioned, it delivers a scathing dissection of the years from 1925 to 1955 through the eyes of Oskar Matzerath, the dwarf whose manic beating on the toy of his retarded childhood fantastically counterpoints the accumulating horrors of Germany and Poland under the Nazis.

It is an intense read and best taken slowly.  So I’m proposing to read one part per month (around 200 pages) for three months.   I’ll post my thoughts here on the final Sunday of each month starting January 2010.  And I hope that  whether you’re a fully fledged Germanophile, an award winner / Nobel laureate reading challenge participant or simply curious, you’ll read / discuss along with me.

And when we’re done reading, discussing and comparing translations, we can watch the film (and keep the book to movie challenge participants happy too!)

How many more reasons do you need to join in?  OK, two more. 1) It’s brilliant and 2) a darn sight easier than Ulysses!

Convinced now? Grab yourself a copy – any copy, any language will do –  and I’ll see you in January.