The Safety Net
Publication Date: December 28, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Fritz Tolm has risen to the most powerful position in Germany. With fame comes fear and vulnerability. Threats to his life are met with the all-pervasive “safety-net” of police protection and surveillance. Trapped in a house they dare not leave, where every visitor is suspect and every object a potential bomb, Tolm and his family wait to discover when and how terrorism will overtake them.
In 1972, Heinrich Böll became the first German to win the Nobel Prize for literature since Thomas Mann in 1929. Born in Cologne, in 1917, Böll was reared in a liberal Catholic, pacifist family. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he served on the Russian and French fronts and was wounded four times before he found himself in an American prison camp. After the war he enrolled at the University of Cologne, but dropped out to write about his shattering experiences as a soldier. His first novel, The Train Was on Time, was published in 1949, and he went on to become one of the most prolific and important of post-war German writers. His best-known novels include Billiards at Half-Past Nine (1959), The Clown (1963), Group Portrait with Lady (1971), and The Safety Net (1979). In 1981 he published a memoir, What’s to Become of the Boy? or: Something to Do with Books. Böll served for several years as the president of International P.E.N. and was a leading defender of the intellectual freedom of writers throughout the world. He died in June 1985.
THE ESSENTIAL HEINRICH BÖLL
“Heinrich Böll never lacked courage. When most good German burghers were reacting to the words ‘Baader-Meinhof’ as if they were the names of Hell’s most fearsome demons, Böll attempted to explain, in print, why some of Germany’s most brilliant people had chosen the left-hand path of terrorism.”
"Melville House has now reissued handsome paperbacks of three of Böll's most important novels, and in each we find the 1972 Nobel Prize winner, with a humanist's skepticism and tenderness, refusing to allow his fellow Germans to forgive themselves and move on.... The Safety Net offers some uncanny reverberations of today's invasive security measures."
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"Böll is an expert marksman: the arrows are sharp, the feathers smooth, the targets numerous."
—The New York Times
“The strongest response to modern terrorism by a serious novelist; an artful, gripping novel.”
“His work reaches the highest level of creative originality and stylistic perfection.”
—The Daily Telegraph
"The renewal of German literature, to which Heinrich Böll's achievements witness, and of which they are a significant part, is not an experiment with form. Instead it is a rebirth out of annihilation, a resurrection, a culture which, ravaged by icy nights and condemned to extinction, sends up new shoots, blossoms, and matures to the joy and benefit of us all."
—The Nobel Prize Committee
"A man of deep feeling and intelligence, speaking in a strongly contemporary voice, he recorded in his early stories the way it felt to come home to a destroyed country.The tone was neither angry, ironic nor surreal. On the contrary, these stories gave us the slow-moving thoughtfulness of a narrator in pain, walking about on a lunar landscape, knowing he must make sense of things more quickly than he is able to do."
—Vivian Gornick, The New York Times