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The Train Was on Time
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About the Author

In 1972, Heinrich Boell became the first German to win the Nobel Prize for literature since Thomas Mann in 1929. Born in Cologne, in 1917, Boell was reared in a liberal Catholic, pacifist family. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he served on the Russian and French fronts and was wounded four times before he found himself in an American prison camp. After the war he enrolled at the University of Cologne, but dropped out to write about his shattering experiences as a soldier. His first novel, The Train Was on Time, was published in 1949, and he went on to become one of the most prolific and important of post-war German writers. His best-known novels include Billiards at Half-Past Nine (1959), The Clown (1963), Group Portrait with Lady (1971), and The Safety Net (1979). In 1981 he published a memoir, What's to Become of the Boy? or: Something to Do with Books. Boell served for several years as the president of International P.E.N. and was a leading defender of the intellectual freedom of writers throughout the world. He died in June 1985.


Translator Leila Vennewitz was a distinguished translator of many German authors including Uwe Johnson, Hermann Hesse, Uwe Timm, Alexander Kluge, and Alfred Andersch.

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"Boell has feelingly symbolized a guilty Germany doing pennace for its sins through suffering and death."--TIme

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