Böll, Heinrich (hĪnˈrĭkh böl) [key], 1917–85, German novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. Böll presents a critical, antimilitarist view of modern society in a collection of masterful short stories, Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa· · · (1950; tr. Traveller, If You Come to Spa…, 1956), and the novels Wo warst du, Adam? (1951; tr. Adam, Where Art Thou?, 1955) and Billard um halb zehn (1959; tr. Billiards at Half Past Nine, 1961). Humanity's excesses and its inability to alter his destiny are among Böll's principal concerns in the narratives Und sagte kein einziges Wort (1953; tr. Acquainted with the Night, 1954), Haus ohne Hüter (1954; tr. Tomorrow and Yesterday, 1957), Ansichten eines Clowns (1963; tr. The Clown, 1965), and Entfernung von der Truppe (1964; tr. Absent without Leave, 1965). Many of Böll's works present his critical reflections on Catholicism, the church, and contemporary German society. Among his other notable works are a collection of travel essays, Irish Journal (tr. 1967); the novel Gruppenbild mit Dame (1971; tr. Group Portrait with Lady, 1973); two English anthologies, Eighteen Stories (1966) and Children Are Civilians Too (1970); and formerly unpublished stories, Der blasse Hund (1995; tr. The Mad Dog, 1997). Böll won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1972.
See J. H. Reid, Henrich Böll: A German for His Time (1988).