Nobel prize-winning German writer Gunter
Nobel prize-winning German writer Gunter Grass dies Reuters

Günter Grass, the influential and controversial Nobel prize-winning German writer, has died aged 87 following a lung infection.

Grass was best known for his debut novel The Tin Drum, published in 1959 and about the life and observations of the protagonist Oskar Matzerath, a dwarf who is incarcerated in a mental asylum for a murder he did not commit.

But he was also well known for his politics, with a number of outspoken moments defining his life, such as a poetic critique of Israel and his opposition to German reunification in the early 1990s.

Here is the life of Grass in ten facts:


Here's how the world's media is remembering Grass.

The Guardian:

Grass found success in every artistic form he explored – from poetry to drama and from sculpture to graphic art – but it wasn't until publication of his first novel, The Tin Drum, in 1959 that he found the international reputation which brought him the Nobel prize for literature 40 years later. A speechwriter for the German chancellor Willy Brandt, Grass was never afraid to use the platform his fame afforded, campaigning for peace and the environment and speaking out against German reunification, which he compared to Hitler's "annexation" of Austria.

Deutsche Welle:

His life, full of ups and downs, moments of triumph and turmoil, began on October 16, 1927. Günter Grass grew up in a rather humble home: His parents ran a grocery store in Gdansk (then known as Danzig), but their customers were so poor that they couldn't always pay the bills. The Catholic family lived in a very small apartment.


In 2006, he saw himself forced to admit that, during the Second World War, he himself had not been altogether innocent. His former membership in the notorious Waffen-SS, mentioned in his 2006 autobiography "Peeling the Onion," caused a stir both in Germany and abroad, besmirching his reputation as a moral authority. Suddenly he who had always advocated stringently dealing with Germany's Nazi past was accused of being a hypocrite.

A rift seemed to grow between the writer and the public, a moral authority holding up a mirror to the Germans was no longer needed.

New York Times:

Mr. Grass was hardly the only member of his generation who obscured the facts of his wartime life. But because he was a pre-eminent public intellectual who had pushed Germans to confront the ugly aspects of their history, his confession that he had falsified his own biography shocked readers and led some to view his life's work in a wholly different light.


Last month, Grass expressed hope for a dramatic change during the Israeli election. A guest of the international Leipzig Book Fair, Grass said in a joint interview with Haaretz, Israel Radio and Army Radio, that he was following events in Israel with interest and hoped that "Next week a new government will be elected that will be capable of doing things and not only making speeches in Washington."

Grass said he had visited Israel many times, but also felt a commitment to the situation of the Palestinians and hoped peace would be possible to achieve soon. "If I'm friendly with someone, I must have the courage to accept criticism from him too," Grass said. "We have to stop calling people who express practical criticism of Israel anti-Semites."

He added that Israel should admit that it is a nuclear power, and like other Middle Eastern countries that possess nuclear weapons, agree to international inspections.