Gunter Grass's painful, moving new novel is based on the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the worst human tragedy in maritime history.
In January 1945, the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German refugee ship, was sunk with the loss of 9,000 lives. Grass's narrator, Paul, is one of the few survivors, a middle-aged journalist who lives in Berlin. Born on a lifeboat that night, the defining moment of his mother's existence, Paul tries to piece together what happened, wishing their lives were less overshadowed by the past.
For his teenage son, Konrad, who dabbles in the far-right, the Gustloff and its sinking embodies the denial of Germany's wartime agony.