Gunter Grass, Nobel Prize-Winning German Author of 'The Tin Drum,' Dies at 87

Gunter Grass - P 2015
AP Images

Director Volker Schlondorff in 2010 returned to Cannes with a reworked version of his 1979 Palme d'Or-winning film based on the novel.

German author Gunter Grass, who in 1999 won the Nobel Prize for literature for his works that include The Tin Drum, has died at the age of 87 in the city of Lubeck.

Grass' publisher, Steidl, posted the news on its website Monday.

German director Volker Schlondorff in 2010 returned to Cannes with a director's cut of his 1979 Palme d'Or-winning film version of The Tin Drum. The movie became the first German title to win the foreign-language Oscar.

The horrors of war were a recurring theme in the works of Grass, who had a reputation for his outspoken political views. The Tin Drum, published in 1959, was his first novel. It told the story of Germany in the first half of the 20th century, including the rise of the Nazis, through the life of a boy who refuses to grow.

The Nobel committee in 1999 lauded his work, saying that its "frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history."

After learning stonemasonry and studying art, Grass joined German literary association Group 47, which focused on encouraging and promoting young authors in the postwar era. It featured such Austrian and German writers as Ingeborg Bachmann and Heinrich Boll as well.

Grass also worked as a speechwriter for Social Democrat and German chancellor Willy Brandt. Grass was known for speaking out for peace and environmental issues but also for criticizing German reunification, which he once compared to Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria.

His works also included Cat and Mouse (1961), a sequel to Tin Drum that focuses on an alienated only child; The Rat (1986) in which a man dreams of a talking rat that tells him about the end of the human race; Too Far Afield (1995), which looked at Germany's reunification; Crabwalk (2002), about the sinking of a German liner in 1945; as well as memoirs Peeling the Onion, The Box and Grimms' Words.

Grass was born in Danzig, now known as Gdansk, in Poland on Oct. 16, 1927. After World War II, he lived in West Germany. He was conscripted into the German army in 1944. In Peeling the Onion, he revealed that he had briefly served in the Waffen SS.

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