June 29, 2012

Book: The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Boll

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:58 am

Heinrich Boll is a German author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature and this book is one of his better known books. However, the expectations raised by the above are completely belied by the book itself. It talks about a stunningly pretty waitress called Katharina Blum who, one day, calls a journalist to her house, calmly kills him in broad daylight, and then wanders about town for almost half a day before walking into a police station to give herself up. What makes it even more weird is that she was being investigated and interviewed by police for being an accessory to help a criminal escape, at that very time.

This is so out of character for her and the story travels back slowly to reveal what prompted the girl to go to such extreme. The author tries to describe the pressure piled upon her by the police and also the harassment at the hand of yellow journalism (“The News”) that slanders her with seeming impunity.

However, it is really hard to be sympathetic to her because she seems to be taken in by a vicious criminal and shuns the affection of a nice and well to do man; knowing what he has done, she still does everything she can to help him, even if it means breaking the law.  Her self described lifestyle itself is one of irresponsibility and lack of responsibility. Her brother, Kurt, is in jail, a criminal. Her mother was not a paragon of virtue either.

Katharina married Brett Loh, who turned out to be a scum and divorced him soon thereafter.

Other characters include Wolshteins, with whom Katharina stayed when she moved to Berlin, Beizanne and Hach, two police detectives who seem to show a shockingly lax sense of what is right.

Other characters seem to be equally bizarre. Dr and Mrs Blorna seem to like her, Dr Blorna being infatuated by her as well, despite being her father’s age. She meets one Ludwig Gotten, the criminal mentioned above, and falls for him supposedly instantly and would do anything for him. The police suspect that they must have known each other before for the same reason.

The storytelling is average and the story itself is nonintuitive. This book does not satisfy and is definitely not a good introduction to this Nobel prize winning author.

Let us say, a 2/10
— Krishna


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