In Irish Journal Heinrich Böll the novelist becomes Böll the traveler, touring Ireland with his family in the mid-1950s. The public figure becomes a private man traveling with his wife and children, struggling with the vagaries of banking and foreign exchange, eavesdropping on conversations aboard a steamer, striking up conversations in pubs where the clock hands are permanently fixed at 10.30, closing time. This engrossing journal, informed with the grace and insight of Böll’s fiction and grounded in a truth no less compelling for the comparative serenity of its setting, is a revelation.
“I like him best for his humor and his phrase-making: both also often going together. … A sympathetic, understanding book, it is likely to give equal pleasure to both the -philes and the -phobes. And, as one would expect of so good a writer, it has Style.” – Sean O’Faolain
Heinrich Böll (1917-85) was one of postwar Germany’s most significant writers. His eloquent denunciation of the senselessness of war and the hypocrisy of modern life, paired with his affirmation of the poetry of human experience, produces writing of unparalleled gravity and vitality. The wide critical acclaim for his work culminated with his receipt of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded not for any single novel but for the consistent impact of his work on a global audience. Leila Vennewitz has translated many works by Böll, including Absent Without Leave, And Never Said a Word, Bread of Those Early Years, and End of a Mission, all published by Northwestern.