Nobel laureate author Heinrich Böll’s first novel The Train Was on Time is short, but its effect remains long. Böll wrote this book just after the Second World War. He describes the war from a soldier’s eye. Because he left his people behind and fought in the war as well, you read the story with more caution. I must say such a writer is infrequent.
Heinrich Böll grabs you right from the first pages of the book and doesn’t let go till the end. However, the end comes when we think about what our hero, who has not even stepped into life, will do. I hate war; it makes me angry that it grows bigger and bigger despite all its meaninglessness. Furthermore, I felt a bit more ashamed of being human as I kept reading. I was mad at all of us, and I just wanted the leave the world and got lost in space. Heinrich Böll is quite fluent. He writes in such a lifelike way that I lost myself in the book and found in the middle of the war.
Although this book is not an easy read, you can read it in one sitting. If you are interested in history and want to read something other than an academic book, you’ll love this. On the other hand, don’t read it if you don’t want to be sad all day. It is compelling. Enjoy!
About the book: The Train Was on Time
Twenty-four-year-old Andreas, a disillusioned German soldier, is travelling on a troop train to the Eastern Front when he has an awful premonition that he will die in exactly five days. As he hurtles towards his death, he reflects on the chaos around him – the naive soldiers, the painfully thin girl who pours his coffee, the ruined countryside – with sudden, heart-breaking poignancy. Arriving in Poland the night before he is certain he will die, he meets Olina, a beautiful prostitute, and together they attempt to escape his fate…
‘Boll combines a mammoth intelligence with a literary outlook that is masterful and unique’ Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22
‘From the moment I stepped onboard the troop train with Private Andreas, concerns pertaining to my own world fell away completely. Holding this impelling book is tantamount to holding the young soldier’s fate in one’s hands. It is impossible to let go.’ Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond
About the author: Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Theodor Böll was one of Germany’s foremost post–World War II writers. Böll was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1967 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: