Mr. Grass lived in Paris during the late 1950s and wrote “The Tin Drum” in a basement apartment there. It earned him worldwide acclaim, as well as accusations of blasphemy and pornography in Germany. Some said he was irresponsible to use a stunted child to represent victims of Nazism. Others were put off by the child’s ability to escape the doom the Nazis had decreed for the physically handicapped, and by his seeming misunderstanding of rape by soldiers as a gift to lonely women. Twisted sexual relationships wind through the book.
The book was banned in Communist countries, including Poland, meaning that it could not legally be read in Gdansk, the city where it was set.
“The Tin Drum’s” fame grew after the director Volker Schlöndorff made it into a vivid movie, which won the 1979 Academy Award for best foreign language film.