In translation from the German, this long novel by an avant-garde artist in several media has already attracted considerable attention and admiration; Grass, it is bell, is the one artist of real imaginative power to have appeared in postwar Germany. It is indeed an extraordinary book, preposterous, baleful, bawdy, blasphemous, grotesque, and essentially surrealistic although well grounded in the realism of lower German middle class life. From the exceptional circumstances of his mother's conception (his grandmother hid a refugee under the four skirts she habitually wore), Oskar tells of his -own birth, with a full and frightening adult intelligence. At three there was the self-induced fall which prevented his further growth. A diminutive-, monstrous Wunderkind, he was able with his voice to shatter glass, and with the toy drum from which he was never separated, he had another secret weapon of many uses and powers. In the picaresque saturnalia to follow, during and after the war years in Danzig- a divided city, perhaps reflecting Oskar's own divided paternity and experiences, he is responsible for the deaths of those around him, engages in all kinds of destructive incidents, is the victim of a second fall (pushed by his own son into a grave) and begins to grow and acquire a humpback. Finally he is interned in the mental hospital from which he tells this story..... It is a novel of many interpretations, moral and political -- which many will find forceful, fascinating, brilliantly sardonic (and sacriligious); it also pays the price of much of its outrageous invention and is, towards the close, wearing.