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Berlin Alexanderplatz

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I read this as part of a group read run by a previous member here, Lizzy Siddal.  It was part of German Lit Month. 


From Amazon (because they can do it better)


Franz Biberkopf is back on the streets of Berlin. Determined to go straight after a stint in prison, he finds himself thwarted by an unpredictable external agency that looks an awful lot like fate. Cheated, humiliated, thrown from a moving car; embroiled in an underworld of pimps, thugs, drunks and prostitutes, Franz picks himself up over and over again - until one day he is struck a monstrous blow which might just prove his final downfall.


A dazzling collage of newspaper reports, Biblical stories, drinking songs and urban slang, Berlin Alexanderplatz is the great novel of Berlin life: inventing, styling and recreating the city as reality and dream; mimicking its movements and rhythms; immortalizing its pubs, abattoirs, apartments and chaotic streets. From the gutter to the stars, this is the whole picture of the city.



It took me a long time to get into this book but once there it was amazing. It was, of course, difficult but I don't mind struggling with my fiction from time to time and this was definitely worth it.  It's  very difficult to describe the book, as it is - as above - a collage of different things, which takes a lot of getting used to. Lizzy had it read very quickly but I took my time and spent the whole month reading it.  The other participants dropped out.  Women are not at all treated well in this book (but then we are dealing with prostitutes) and it concentrates on the criminals and underworld of the city so there is not a character that the reader can identify with let alone like.  


I'd recommend this because it's so superbly well written but it is tremendously difficult to read in the collage style and the characters are all unpleasant.  A triumph, imho

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