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Little Man, What Now?
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Little Man, What Now?

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,171 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Since its first publication in 1933, this novel has become a world classic. It provides a vivid, poignant picture of life in Germany just before Hitler's takeover and focuses on a young married couple struggling to survive in the country's nightmarish inflation.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Academy Chicago Publishers (first published 1932)
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3.5 stars
This tale is a sweetly naïve, charming description of a couple's relationship and survival through economic hard times in Berlin 1932. It is a response to social stories of the day, of bleak futures on the horizon as poverty, conflict and social disorder dominated everyday life. Fallada draws on his observations of many Berliners left jobless and despairing by the depression. In 1932 when Little Man What Now? was published, 42% of German workers were unemployed and further cast into des...more
Hans Fallada must have been a lover, because he hits every detail. The babytalk, the little spats and the guilt that follows, the waffling from boundless optimism to despondency over the course of the day, the overwhelming sense of well-being and accomplishment two people get from making dinner or the budget together - or from forgiving each other (the story of the dressing table!).

Fallada wants to defend the lovers' right to their naivete, to their apolitical existence - to defend the "little...more
Kasa Cotugno
Little Man, What Now? tells the story of a couple so ordinary they are immediately recognizeable to today's reader, even though the book was written in 1932, during the chaotic days of the Weimer Republic on the threshold of the Nazis' rise to power. Nazis are around, but are regarding and portrayed as thugs with the overriding concerns for the newly married couple in the center of the story being mere survival. As with Every Man Dies Alone,many minor characters are so well fleshed out rendering...more
Apr 26, 2013 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alan by: Corey Mesler
Shelves: novels
although at points I felt this was rushed, as though the author was just putting down what he felt like (eg naturism an answer to economic crisis! Although that did add to its charm), this was an absorbing, fascinating read. A couple on the poverty line face life in 1932 Germany, the Weimar republic on the brink of collapse, and Nazis on the rise. The counting of every pfennig, the absurdities of the hierarchies in the various shops and offices where the unfortunate Pinneburg (sorry that may be...more
The book is written in Germany of 1932. One year before Hitler came to power.

I first read this in Swedish a few years ago. The Swedish title, What'll Become Of The Pinnebergs? is a bit cheesy; it sounds a bit like a 30s comedy, which of course it is in a way, but it doesn't seem to have the weight of the original's Little Man, What Now? At the same time I can't help but like the title, as if it's setting us up less to see a warning (which it is) and more to see the people in it, as a (which it a...more
Op aanraden van een kennis las ik Falladas roman "Alleen in Berlijn". Ik was meteen zo verslingerd dat ik de week nadien op zoek ging naar de rest van zijn oeuvre.
"Wat nu, kleine man" verscheen al in 1932, maar blijft - op enkele details na - ongelooflijk actueel.
In eenvoudige taal beschrijft Fallada alledaagse situaties van doodgewone mensen, en dat zonder enige pretentie of sensatiezucht.
Doorgaans heb ik een hartsgrondige hekel aan alles wat nog maar ruikt naar "reality". Maar Fallada schrijft...more
==About little cogs in the big wheel==
To review this book must involve crediting its accurate portrayal of historical circumstances and Fallada's own personal background which strongly flavour this novel. Pinneberg, the "little man," is enmeshed in the futility of the hand-to-mouth existence of a white-collar worker in early 1930s Germany. His wife, whom he calls Lammchen, is his sole inspiration, comforter and moral compass. The readers follow these two through Lammchen's pregnancy and the birt...more
Avrete sperimentato tutti la piccolezza. Quella condizione dell'essere che ti prende e ti trasferisce direttamente in un film che mai sarà (o forse sarà, oppure ne troverete qualche scena qua e là, se saprete cercare bene), del tuo occhio fa una soggettiva e dell'oggetto del tuo sguardo un gigante. Inquadratura dal basso verso l'alto, luce che si dirama in mille piccoli raggi, la cui fonte è nascosta dall'enormità del tuo interlocutore. Tu, un minuscolo microbo, lui, un sacro totem. Voce roboant...more
Today we are in a recession. Parents of my students won't let them come to homework club because it means wasting gas on two trips to school. For Hans and Bunny a recession means much worse. Let us add to it by the fact Bunny is pregnant, and Hans has difficulty staying employed in various men's shops, they have no family to help them, and they live in Berlin in 1932. Every night there is potatoes for dinner and surprising expenses like the baby. As a counterbalance to all this grimness Hans and...more
Set during the lead up to Nazism in Germany in the 1930s, this novel focuses on the "little man," an ordinary guy & his wife, and how they struggle to get by. Both Johannes, a/k/a Sonny (his wife's nickname for him) and Mia (a/k/a Lambchen) are characters you care deeply about, and whose efforts simply to get by, are both heartrending and at times comical. Fallada's descriptions of their interactions are truly the best "newlywed" experiences I've ever read. Hitler makes no appearance in this...more
This "darkly enchanting" novel is definitely dark though not so enchanting. I would have preferred the translator to leave the protagonist's nickname as Junge rather than Sonny, which I found distracting along with the Shrimp for the child. Nonetheless, the story does seem to capture the sense of foreboding in German society during the Depression and is well-worth reading for anyone who wants a microcosmic view of this time period before Hitler's takeover.
Gisela Hafezparast
If you want to know what it felt like to be an average German between the wars and how they let the Nazis get to the top, you MUST read that all of Hans Fallada's books. Together with Max Frisch's books this will help. Brilliant read also as a very good story and very moving.
‘En plotseling begrijpt Pinneberg alles, nu hij deze agent, al deze fatsoenlijke mensen, en deze blinkende spiegelruit ziet. Hij begrijpt dat hij hier niet meer bij hoort, dat men hem met recht wegjaagt. Hij is gestruikeld, uitgegeleden, aan lager wal geraakt, afgeschreven. Een keurig uiterlijk: vroeger, lang geleden. Arbeid en een zeker bestaan: vroeger, lang geleden. Verder komen in de wereld en hopen op de toekomst: alles vroeger, vroeger, vroeger. Armoede betekent niet alleen ellende. Armoed...more
Rob Bayley
I love this book. I love Fallada. I love Alone in Berlin. Little Man What Now explores how isolated we can become in societies that are based solely on income. In a depression if you do not have work you are worthless. If you do not have work you can be exploited by employers who see the time is ripe to drag money their way without complaint, if an employee complains then out they go there are plenty more of the desperate to take their place. It is simply written and the love between the two pro...more
The era is one in which I enjoy reading but this book simply annoyed me. To be fair, It could have been just the translation. If I read the word "Shrimp" one more time I could have screamed.

The novel lacked depth for me and while the era was presented realistically, the protagonist couple wasn't. After three years, no arguments, blame or resentment? Endless lovey dovey, dear heart sweetie amongst a couple in that much economic turmoil is not very realistic in my experience.

I feel Fallada did m...more
I'm adding an extra star today. I finished this yesterday, and I can't stop wondering what happened to this compelling little German family during WWII. That's a sign of a great story. The style isn't what I usually read. It's the style of contemporary, "literary" fiction. It was written between wars. It reminded me of Updike's Rabbit books, which I hate. Maybe because of the small perspective? Maybe the "everyman" view? Somehow I liked this one. It has a gentle, dark humor, and it is ultimately...more
Seamus Mcduff
My 3-star rating is an indication, as per the Goodreads prompt, that 'I liked it'; it's not an indication of what I think of its literary worth.
As a writer I think Fallada is very skilled and able; he creates a great amount of pathos, and one is easily able to believe in his characters and empathise with them, and feel for them in their troubles in what seem to be very tough economic times. Pinneberg and Lammchen are quite sympathetic and realistic characters, good without being saccharine; I fo...more
Het boek leest heel vlot; het is vertaald op zo'n manier dat de hedendaagse lezer de originele tekst en stijl duidelijk beleeft zonder dat er aan vlotheid of leesbaarheid is ingeboet. De thematiek is - helaas- nog altijd voorpaginanieuws: de gevolgen van een economische recessie voor 'de kleine man'. Die kleine man is in feite de 'middenklasse' die vandaag volgens de kranten dreigt te verarmen.

Het hoofdpersonage Pinneberg is een jonge 'employe', d.i. een voorloper van de bediende. Hij hoort dus...more
It’s odd how ideas from disparate kinds of reading can coalesce in the mind: I have been reading The Censor’s Library, Uncovering the Lost History of Australia’s Banned Books by Nicole Moore, and amongst other propositions that she puts is that the enthusiasm with which books were banned in Australia led to the modernism movement passing us by. However it wasn’t just works by authors such as James Joyce which had too many naughty bits for the good people of Australia to read, it was all kinds of...more
Einer der beste Bucher die ich je gelesen habe. Fallada bildet einen sehr empathisches, emotionaler Welt, die das leben eines junge Paares zwischen den Kriegen zeichnet. Mit sehr einfache Sprache hat er es geschafft, uns das leben des kleines Mannes deutlich zu verstehen und zu erleben. Farbelhaft und emotionsreich.

I do not know if the English version (Little Man, what now?) is as fabulous as the German original, but this tale of a young couple struggling to make ends meet in Berlin during the r...more

Much as John Steinbeck turned the spotlight on Americans pounded into the ground by crushing depression-era poverty, so does Hans Fallada’s Little Man, What Now? paint portraits of Germans who were also effected by the Great Depression. Unemployment, failing businesses, bankruptcy, poverty and homelessness plagued the nation in 1932, the year the novel was published in Berlin.

Fallada turns his pen toward the common man faced with untenable circumstances. We watch painfully as young Johannes Pinn...more
Juliana Jura
Little Man, What Now?..... As the title reflects.....a working class young man, setting off on a path in life with his new wife, Lammchen....full of hope and ideals. But life is never what we expect and it certainly isn't for Pinneberg, the main male character in the story. For him, as for most...reality sets in and we witness him struggling cope with what life throws at him over a period of several years throughout his marriage and birth of his firstborn..The Shrimp. What a lovely name!!
"Het liep tegen de avond en de zon ging al onder. Goeienavond,' zei Pinneberg, bleef staan en keek haar aan. 'Goeienavond,' zei Emma Mörschel, bleef staan en keek hem ook aan. 'Gaat u daar liever niet heen,' zei hij en wees waar hij vandaan was gekomen. 'Daar spelen ze overal jazzmuziek en de helft is al dronken ook.' 'Ja?' zei ze. 'Maar gaat u daar ook maar liever niet heen,' zei ze en wees waar zij vandaan was gekomen. 'In Wiek is het net zo.' 'Maar wat moeten we dan doen?' vroeg hij en lachte...more
I read this book as part of a German Lit. in translation course. This novel provides an interesting look at Germany in the years between World War I and II. As I read it and saw got an understanding of the depths of economic depression the country was in, I began to have a better grasp of how Hitler was able to mesmerize the nation and take power -- he spoke in a way that made people think he'd restore their pride and prosperity.

The story itself is fairly basic. I liked how Fallada wrapped the...more
An interesting novel. Set between the World Wars in Germany it charts the lives of a newly married couple & their baby son during the Depression that swept Germany in the 1930s. Poignant & funny in equal measure this book opens a period of history that I knew little about & personalises it. There is a minimal amount of historical detail & politics but just enough menace to remind the reader what happened in the next few years to Germany & make you wonder what will happen to S...more
Oct 08, 2014 Daisy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I guess I have this in English also. My German copy has a drawing of a couple pushing a baby carriage. The man is pushing and the woman is carrying a jacket. I got it, along with 3 other books, at the Goethe Institute (a buck for a book) after seeing the movie Boxhagenplatz based on the novel by Torsten Schulz.
Really like Fallada's writing - succinct. Very bleak. Tiny moments of relief become a sheer joy and brought a smile to my face, which was otherwise continually pained and brought to tears by the portrayal of the human condition struggling in an oppressive cruel world.
I rate this 3.5/5

I enjoyed this novel more than I expected to. It was unexpectedly comical. The Pinnebergs were so young and naive, it was hard not to love them both and hope for their success and happiness. I have to wonder how they made it through WWII. I read this novel after reading In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, as Hans Fallada was mentioned as an acquaintance of Martha Dodd. I'm not sure I would have liked Hans Fallada much as a person, ba...more
Fallada was a very troubled man. Alcoholic, drug addict, depressive, sometimes violent, wholly self-destructive. That he wrote very straight-forward books, focused on the details of ordinary lives, with very few allusions to the extraordinary happenings going on all around, seems almost impossible. (His final book, Every Man Dies Alone, is the exception.)

He wrote at great speed (at least two of his better books were written in less than a month), with few revisions. This, and his early training...more
Gina Rheault
A German "Grapes of Wrath" . Story of a happy young couple in pre-WW II Germany who lose, and lose, and lose, again. And they are not alone.
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Hans Fallada, born Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen in Greifswald, was one of the most famous German writers of the 20th century. His novel, LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? is generally considered his most famous work and is a classic of German literature. Fallada's pseudonym derives from a combination of characters found in the Grimm fairy tales: The protagonist of Lucky Hans and a horse named Falada in The Goo...more
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“And so it had been going on week after week. Month after month. That was what was so discouraging, that it went on so endlessly. Hadn't he once believed that it was all over? The worst thing was that it went on. And on, and on, with no end in sight.” 0 likes
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