The Tin Drum

The Tin Drum - Günter Grass

This is going to be the very, very short version as one would have to write pages to do justice to this book and I'm just not up to it. In a nutshell..Oskar is born with the understanding of an adult. He hears a conversation between his mother and her husband in which the husband says Oskar will grow up and take over the family grocery store. The mother says when Oskar is three he will get a drum. The horror! A life running the grocery store is not to Oskar's liking but he likes the idea of the drum. At the age of three he determines he will never be a politician, run a grocery store or grow up, so he stops growing and takes up the drum.


He drums through school, the occupation of Poland by the Germans, the liberation by the Russians and all other societal upheavals. He drums his life, who was his father, his mother's husband or her lover and second cousin? Oskar likes to think the cousin. He drums his love of Maria and the boy he may have fathered with her, he drums his involvement with a youth street gang and all other events in his life until the day comes when he determines that he must give up his drums and grow up.

The book is brilliant and really deserves 5*s, this reader, however, is less brilliant and did not always understand the references made and for that reason alone I dropped it to 4*s. I found it the type of book that is not a sit down and read it straight through book but one that required me to stop every 40 or 50 pages to try to digest what I had just read, it made me think and work for my enlightenment and the rewards were worth it. Having knowledge of the historical events of this time period would certainly be of value and enhance your reading pleasure. An excellent book and I apologize to the author for penalizing his work for my own shortcomings.


Originally published on