Little Man, What Now? by Hans Fallada

Photo by Ronan Kraft on Unsplash

Hiya! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything onto this page. With everything going on in the world and the precariousness of my financial situation posting on this blog took a little bit of a backburner. But now that I have more free time, I want to get back into and what better than starting with one of my all-time favourite books.

You’ve guessed from the title; this post is going to be about Hans Fallada’s ‘Little Man, What Now?’. I picked this book up on a trip to Hatchards in London, and I am so glad I did. I had previously read Alone in Berlin by Fallada and loved it. After reading Little Man, it quickly climbed its way onto my top books I have read in my 20 as I have developed a love of books with slow plots and almost dull stories. Though it tested my patience at first reading books that never seem to have a climax in the scenario, I found that after a while, it was quite relaxing. Life nowadays moves so quickly, and I like reading about people in books whose lives seem to be infinitely slower.

‘Little Man, What Now?’ is set in the years after the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the first years of the Great Depression. It tells of a man and his girlfriend trying to survive the conditions of the white-collar workers of the time. Fallada illuminates the roles of trade unions, governmental institutions, and sacking in the labour market. Very quickly the readers find out that the main character Johannes Pinneberg and his girlfriend Emma “Lammchen” Morschel are expecting their first child, which is premediated by Pinneberg losing his job. This combined with an unhelpful family, it is difficult to navigate their situation, and they find themselves moving all over the country in search of a better life.

The book does a great job of telling the lives of ordinary people and the struggles they faced. Lammchen develops money saving techniques and rises to the challenge of raising a child with little to no income. Fallada highlights the benefits of Germany’s social care system which pays unemployment benefits, takes care of medical bills for the baby and pays Emma so that she does not have to work in the weeks before and after giving birth. The book isn’t a story of drastic turns and plot twists, but more a telling of what was probably a genuine situation for ordinary people during that time. Businesses are shown to exploit their workers in ways similar to conditions, even in today’s world.

If you’re looking for a thrilling page-turner, this isn’t the book for you. But if you want to glimpse the world of white-collar workers in Germany and immerse yourself in a book filled with family dramas, money problems and a couple who love each other immensely then this is the book for you. Fallada quickly became a personal favourite author of mine, and I recommend any of his other works, especially Alone in Berlin.

I hope that everyone is staying safe during this quarantine. Until next time,
-S

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