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My Century

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,403 ratings  ·  109 reviews
In negenennegentig verhalen geeft Günter Grass (1927) een beeld van deze eeuw, van 1900 tot 1999. Over elk jaar geeft de ik-figuur een verslag van of commentaar op kleine en grote gebeurtenissen van deze eeuw, beschrijvingen van belangrijke en onbelangrijke personen. Het boek is geen roman (zoals Geert Mak, 'De eeuw van mijn vader') maar een verhalenbundel, met ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published 2000 by Faber & Faber (first published 1999)
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Some of my favourite books are almost impossible to review.

Dante's The Divine Comedy, Goethe's Faust, and other classics: what can I possibly add to the long run of sentences they have inspired since their publication? And yet, they mean so much to me, I share the urge to write about my relationship to them.

Other favourites, and almost all Günter Grass' novels fall into this category, defy objective evaluation on my part, as they are too closely linked to my own experience of growing up in
Ahmad Sharabiani
Mein Jahrhundert = My Century, Günter Grass, Michael Henry Heim (Translator)
Günter Grass tells us a story for every year of our century. He writes of great events and seemingly trivial occurrences, of technical developments and scientific discoveries, of achievements in culture and sports, of megalomania, of persecution and murder, of war and disasters, and of new beginnings. Although each story has a different narrator, collectively the stories form a complete and linear narrative in which the
Greg Brozeit
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mein Jahrhundert (My Century) is difficult to pigeonhole. Grass writes short pieces about episodes in German history for each year of the 20th Century. What really makes it special, though, is how Grass creates a history from below montage. Most of the pieces are about how regular people see and experience the events around them. Grass writes from the viewpoints of males, females, old, young, and in-between representing virtually every German dialect, region, social class and political ...more
The central question of all of Gunter Grass' work is what we make of the intensely violent century into which I was born, particularly in Germany. My Century is Grass' attempt to contemplate it year-by-year from German voices of every persuasion. It had the potential to be stunning, and while it wasn't quite up to the standard of some of Grass' other work, there is a serious charm to each little story and the way they form a coherent narrative of what it was to be a European from 1900 to 1999.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
Didn't finish this one just yet (got to 1950), but I may never, so this is considered "read". I had trouble with each new story/chapter getting into the story right away, so they pretty much all took two (or sometimes three) reads, but once the history had been looked up and the story re-read, they usually felt pretty interesting. It's a lot of work to read this book if you're not a German history afficionado.
Liz Janet
One-hundred years of German history, one short passage per year, each told from a different perspective told through changes in time and literary style.
Wally Beddoe
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
The book My Century was written by Günter Grass and is a mostly-fictional account of events covering a one-hundred year period (1900 through 1999). The setting for the stories is primarily Germany.

Initially reluctant, as Im not a big fan of fictional writing, I ended up really enjoying Grass storytelling through characters that he either respected or who were significant to him in some way at one time or another. It became clear to me that whether fiction or not, Grass was telling the history
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of one hundred inter-linked stories celebrating the twentieth century, by Guenther Grass. Mirroring the century the sequence of stories unfolds a lively and sparkling portrait of the XXth century emerges in all its grandeur and in all its horror. Part of the fun of reading this was identifying the incidents that Grass is alluding to. How well do you know your century?
Eric Wojcik
Aug 17, 2014 rated it liked it
A brilliant idea I wish we could commission writers in other countries to do before much of the feel of the 20th Century disappears, yet it comes off as slightly less than the sum of its parts. I have a good grasp of German history and studied there a bit some years ago, but was helpless in the face of many of his references. The density of the stories and their immediacy - in that he rarely stops to explain who is speaking or what the subject is - adds to the difficulty. But I appreciate the ...more
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to think about this book.
It sure wasn't what I expected - a collection of short stories, all taking place in one year of the last century and describing something fitting that time - but rather an odd combination of memoir-like texts, none of which makes any sense on its own.

But I have to say that even seeing the whole picture, I failed to get the point.
It might be because I am too young, or because the authors' style isn't "my cup of tea" or maybe I'm just not
Lorenzo Berardi
One hundred short stories with a very high average level.
The short format of these miniatures helps. In this case, being concise avoiding digressions makes Grass' way of writing even better.

Each narration you will find here is related to one of the years between 1900 and 2000. Different point of views and many interesting perspectives on the main events happened in Germany and worldwide in the last century.

The author is able to put himself in the shoes of schoolboys, old women, sport reporters,
Rob C
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting story of the German story through the 20th century. Told from the point of view of 100 short narratives it captures the fact that despite all the differences, there is sort of one German story. When you fit the pieces together it is amazing all the experiences of this country and its people. It is fascinating to be living here in a country that was so different not that long ago. I really enjoyed the writing style, although it took a few chapters to realize what the literary ...more
Frank O'connor
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: flash fiction fans
This is a book about the individual in and through time. It is a staggering technical achievement. Each year is represented as a beautiful Flash piece, with an authentic voice, layered themes, a pertinent subject (such as technology, social events, politics, sport) and a strong story. The cumulative impact of the approach is to demonstrate time both from the perspective of the situated individual and the omniscient god simultaneously. As time passes, the nature of this book changes. Reading it ...more
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Great writer - one of my favorites of all time is the intensely anti-nazi book "The Tin Drum". However, dude didn't find if necessary to disclose the fact that he was in the Waffen SS when 17 until a couple of years ago. I don't think this makes him a hypocrite. World War 2 is a real moral clusterfuck, especially for someone like Grass, who was drafted against his will at age 17.
Rachel Ramirez
I found this book very difficult to read. Having little knowledge of German history, the format of writing from a different person's perspective in almost every chapter made it difficult for me to follow. I did learn a few things, and will try a different book by the author, but this was very hard to get through.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an incredible way to learn about the happenings that our history books don't touch on. Each chapter covers one year--and one event or sentiment--of the 20th century. Loved it.
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it

I had read both The Tin Drum and the autobiographical Peeling The Onion previously; My Century is different from both in that it is straight non-genre narrative, but telling short snapshots from every year from 1900 to 2000, mostly (though not all) with different protagonists. There are some odd choices - the second war is told in flashback by journalists reminising in the 1960s; the Holocaust is barely mentioned buring the war but intrudes on a
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An astonishing book by an obviously great and fêted writer. 100 short stories, one for each year of the 20th Century. Like a fictional oral history of genuine breadth and variety, wit and insight.

As a non-German there were inevitably references I didnt catch but that never spoiled the enjoyment. This is rich fare, some out loud absurdly funny, some deeply poignant, some semi-autobiographical or faux-autobiographical, as one might expect from even the slimmest appreciation of the German century.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I would say that Günter Grass is a great writer but I can see why John Updike complained about the intrusiveness of his politics into his art: it seems like every other page has a mention of a political party, a student group or a demonstration.

Also, the translation is awkward at times and it felt as if the translator was struggling to shift the wordplay of the writer in his original language over into English: for example, 'Frau Beimer, on the other hand, is a model of humankindness'. On
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Yes, I read the book in German.)

A lot of people say that this book is not Grass's best book, and while that's true, it's also not a bad book. Mein Jahrhundert is a series of short vignettes, one from each year of the 20th century. With a few exceptions, the stories are entirely distinct from one another, all dropping into a new character's head for a few minutes. The stories themselves are not super duper interesting, but the effect as a whole is really interesting
Andrew Cooper
100 great quick clips from Grass' take on the twentieth century in Germany. Brilliantly takes stories from both sides of the World Wars and also both sides of East and West German lines.
None of these are short stories, but instead quick clips encapsulating the year Gunter Grass is writing about. He structures it with the first 2-4 page clip in 1900, the next in 1901, and so on through 1999. Each chapter is an ever slowly march through the century and provides a great look of modern Germany
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Gunter Grass writes a short vignette for each year of the twentieth century. Some are in his voice and other are in fictional voices. Not being well versed in German history detracted from my comprehension of these stories. Also, the format seemed to drain much of the emotion from historical events. The war years, First, Second, and Cold seemed to slip by with not an iota more emphasis than years that were relatively non eventful. I was disturbed that Mr. Grass admitted, late in his life, that ...more
Lesia Mandzevych
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often we forget that the past we read about in the history books used to be somebody's present. The book by Gunther Grass revives that actual feeling, gives a personal, very alive touch to the 20th century. The importance of this approach is even more visible now, when although we had moved over to the 2000s, we haven't "got over" the previous century and its drama. Hopefully, this new point of view, not the spectator's but participant's, will help many of us while dealing with the past.
Jonny Seymour
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Loved the concept of this book which shows 100 years of German history in the 20th century year-by-year which are all interlinked tenuously. ranging from the Boxer Rebellion, Military History, War, Social upheaval to modern day. Each story skims the surface which never feels fleshed out or entirely cohesive enough as each chapter/year is 3/4 pages long. It certainly gives you a basis to explore German history in more depth and to get a better sense of their perspective.
Ann Hein
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Book is a series of stories, one for each year in the last century. Since it is written by a German, it is seen from his viewpoint. I enjoyed some chapters more than others because I knew the context. So interesting to move from one war to the next, including "our" wars. Diffeent voices in the chapters, too.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2017
This is not the book of his I've recently read which is titled "Of All That Ends." It doesn't show up when I search 🤷♀ ...more
David Flett
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Many sides of grass are evident in the 100 short stories.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Second book I've read by Grass. It seems that he is definitely not one of my favourites.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Read a long time ago, really enjoyed.
Gail Kennon
it was enlightening take on german history. grass is very readable.
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Günter Wilhelm Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he lived in West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood. He always identified himself as a Kashubian.

He is best known for his first novel, "The Tin Drum"

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