The Flounder

by Günter Grass

Paper Book, 1989





San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.


Based loosely on Grimm's The Fisherman and his Wife, this triumphant blend of folk tale and contemporary story takes place over the course of nine months, during which the wife of the narrator becomes pregnant and is regaled with tales of the various cooks the fisherman has met throughout his life. The emerging themes of the novel expose the periods when men made history and women's contributions went largely, in some cases gravely, unrecognized. Inventive, imaginitive and irreverent, this humorous, fundamentally brilliant novel highlights the value of modern-day myth and timeless legend.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jonfaith
One of my favorite novels ever. I've devoured, with intentional puns, this one twice, the second time in tandem with my friends. This represents the purpose of literature. One's culinary awareness is doubtless to be inspired within these pages. Delicious, sinuous and robust, a divine brush paints along his narration, one timeless and laden with vibrato. He is similar to the Magical Realists, only better.… (more)
LibraryThing member technodiabla
I have read about 100 pages so far. I might finish it but I do not feel compelled to right now. The premise of the book is so imaginative and the writing is full of dry wit and cynical dead-on humon about the difference between the sexes. So, it is sad that the book isn't tighter. The story lines and times are intermingled in a ad-hoc rambling way that is somewhat tedious and repetitive. A good editor could take this book, remove 300 pages, and it could be fantastic. It is definitely a book you can put down and pick up again later though, so I might. Interim rating 2.5… (more)
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
Well. Uh. This is definitely something.

An odd book, to put it mildly. Grass has his trademark humor and historical wisdom here. But the whole concept of the novel is something baffling - a talking fish gives advice to the reincarnations of a man and his cook-wife in the areas near Danzig, and the fish is accused by a gang of radical feminists that he has altered the course of history by instituting the patriarchy. There's also a lot of discussion on food, particularly potatoes.

I have no idea what to make of this, but I will return to it. And maybe on a full stomach, as Grass' writing makes me hunger.
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LibraryThing member markalanlaidlaw
Contrary to my fellow reviewers this was for me a compelling book and , if i'm honest the only Grass novel I have really relished. Amusing , informative and should be read with a lightly chilled chablis .
LibraryThing member K_Fox
One of the best books I've ever slogged my way through. The way he picks apart man verses woman, via the diplomacy of a fish... well you have to read it to believe it. History, myth, magic, folklore & a love of all food. Fill your belly.
LibraryThing member TheAlternativeOne
Comparable stories of the battle of the sexes told by an immortal talking flounder, (yes, really) whose subtle guidance to men through the ages leads to the destruction of a once influential matriarchal society and the ascendance of patriarchy.

Hmmm, well, almost every review I've seen of this book has some negative critique or another. I, on the other hand, found it a fabulous piece of fiction. This reincarnation creation myth is quite entertaining and serves as Grass' difinitive statement concerning history, feminism and yes, love. I'll leave it up to you to discover the rest.… (more)
LibraryThing member flaguna
The reader will find out if the luckiest day in human history was when a fisherman found this louder speak fish of asymmetrical face. An unforgettable book of the Nobel Prize German author that boards his most beloved predilections: food and women. However, I read in both Spanish and English (unfortunately not in German) and I have to say that the English translation was poorly made, missing a lot of the hidden places that Grass seeded in his original version. Also, after some research, I found that the author gave a seminar to the translators of The Flounder, in order to share with them what his intention and linguistic pace was; curiously, the English translator did not attend to this seminar, because the book, by the time of the seminar, was already published, this was the reason cause Grass decided to give the seminar.… (more)
LibraryThing member TheCrow2
A hard but slightly overwritten book about the history of Prussia (the Danzig area) and cooks through the eyes of a fish... What a feminist-socialist court can do with a flounder who can be the Zeitgeist or the Tempter...?
LibraryThing member Mdshrk1
This one is like the anti-Ishmael. A good read, but could have been edited a little more.
LibraryThing member judithskiss
This is my favorite book.
I found it hard to get into but after trudging through the lengthy exposition, I couldn't put it down.
LibraryThing member buonasera
Günter Grass makes a flat fish (presumably a flounder) speak and write the history of the humanity. Throughout the pages will know if the luckiest or unluckiest day in history was when a Neolithic fisherman caught this loudspeaker fish.
Grass brings to the conversation his life predilections: food and women, giving both the historical role that the masculine imperative has denied for centuries. Probably the luckiest day of history will be when we look back and restitute to women the powerful and creational principle that incarnate.
It is also remarkable the translation work by A. Saenz, giving to the Spanish version a loyal and beautiful resonance without precedent in other translations of The Flounder.
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