When I first heard of Anna Funder’s novel All That I Am I wanted to start reading it right away as it sounded so appealing. The novel is inspired by – or based on – the tragic life of German-Jewish left-wing playwright Ernst Toller. Some have termed the book “faction” but judging from what I read about it, Funder took a lot of liberties, which makes the term “fiction” more appropriate in the end. All That I Am is Funder’s first novel but she had a huge publishing success with her book Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall.
The book starts in 1933 with Hitler’s rise to power and tells the story of four young German exiles who try to raise awareness in the UK for the threat the new German government poses. Toller is one of them. In 1933 he lost his citizenship, left Berlin and went to live in London.
Here are the first sentences
When Hitler came to power I was in the bath. Our apartment was on the Schiffbauerdamm near the river, right in the middle of Berlin. From its windows we could see the dome of the parliament building. The wireless in the living room was turned up loud so Hans could hear it in the kitchen, but all that drifted down to me were waves of happy cheering, like a football match. It was Monday afternoon.
The discussion starts on Friday, 31 May 2013.
Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2013, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.