The Brits and the Americans do love a good dead white German or Swiss man. Right now, according to a tantalisingly vague press release in trade mag Buchreport, Hans Fallada is cleaning up in the UK. His Alone in Berlin (trans. Michael Hofmann) apparently sold 60,000 copies in a few weeks - almost unheard of for a translated title. It just goes to show what passionate marketing and a good story can do. Based on the real-life couple Elise and Otto Hampel, the book paints a less glamorous picture of anti-Nazi resistance than many readers may be familiar with. And the catchy British title is certainly a little more optimistic than the original Jeder stirbt für sich allein.
As Britain goes Fallada-crazy, Swiss dead guy Robert Walser is making waves in the States. As I've mentioned before, Susan Bernofsky's translation The Tanners is nominated for Best Translated Book - and you can listen to her reading and talking at the Center for the Art of Translation at the excellent Two Words blog.
Interestingly enough, the two writers have one other thing in common. Both have inspired paintings by Billy Childish: "Robert Walser dies in the snow" and "The Drinker".