Irmgard Keun

Ferdinand, the Man with the Kind Heart
  • Ferdinand, the Man with the Kind Heart

  • 'A great writer' Ali Smith

    Newly translated by Michael Hofmann, the touching final novel from the author of Child of All Nations

    'I don't think I'm that unusual, and I don't think I'm crazy either'

    Bombed-out Cologne after the war is a strange place to be. The black market in jam and corsets is booming, half-destroyed houses offer opportunities for stealing doors and eggcups, and de-Nazification parties are all the rage. Ferdinand - daydreamer, former prisoner of war, wearer of a curious jerkin - drifts around the city, observing life's absurdities, strenuously avoiding his fiancée and drinking brandy with his fabulous cousin. When he gets a job as a 'cheerful adviser' to those down on their luck, will Ferdinand's fortunes change too?
    Irmgard Keun's exuberantly funny and touching final novel takes the tiny moments of triumph and defeat in one man's life, and turns them into a moving portrait of the human spirit.

Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin in 1905 and found instant success with her novels Gilgi (1931) and The Artificial Silk Girl (1932). Everything changed in 1933 when the Nazis blacklisted her and destroyed her books; in response, she attempted to sue the Gestapo for loss of earnings. She left Germany (and her husband) in 1936 and lived in exile in Europe, where she wrote Child of All Nations (1936) and After Midnight (1937). She sneaked back into Germany in 1940 under a false name and spent the rest of the war in Cologne. In later years, she wrote for magazines and radio and raised a daughter alone. She died in 1982.

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