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.
Hans Fallada's raw, darkly humorous account of a town rife with corruption, greed and brutality, first published in 1931, was written as Weimar Germany collapsed around him. It is an extraordinary novel about the failure of governments and the failings of people. Michael Hofmann's brilliant, colloquial translation brings this work of intrigue and foreboding to English readers for the first time.