The renowned German writer, artist and activist Günter Grass, who has died at the age of 87, had a long and warm association with the
His passing on Monday in the northern German city of
brought to an end an extraordinarily creative career steeped in both accolades
and acrimony. Lübeck
In contrast to his formidable presence in
Grass was always a low-key figure in the , a place he appreciated as
a peaceful working retreat. Algarve
He first came to international prominence in 1953 with his audaciously inventive novel The Tin Drum. Thirty years later and having published many more books, short stories, plays and poems, he became an
holiday homeowner. Algarve
On befriending fellow-Germans Marie and Volker Huber, founders in 1981 of the Centro Cultural São Lourenço near Almancil, Grass held exhibitions there for decades.
Marie Huber recalled this week that during well-planned visits with his large family two or three times a year, Grass always busied himself writing, sketching and painting.
An exhibition of his sketches, watercolours, prints and sculptures was showing at the São Lourenço cultural centre in 1999 when it was announced by the
that Grass had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Swedish Academy
He celebrated his 75th birthday in the
in 2002 with a retrospective, his tenth one-man show at São Lourenço. It opened
with a reading by Grass from his latest novella, Im Krebsgang (Crabwalk). The
Palácio de Galaría in Tavira was the venue for a major exhibition the following
By then Grass had moved from his original holiday home in Estômbar, near Lagoa, to a self-designed haven surrounded by nature in the foothills of Monchique.
Grass was“a very gentle man,”Marie Huber recalls. Others in the
have commented on his quiet
friendliness, his love of storytelling and his sense of humour. Algarve
elsewhere he was a much more confrontational and often stridently outspoken
At a Council of Europe meeting the year after his Nobel Prize, he denounced the bigotry shown towards the Roma people,
ethnic minority for whom he set up a foundation.
Without compromise he campaigned for global disarmament, but admitted he had been too hasty in warning that German reunification might once again threaten world peace.
Accusations of hypocrisy accompanied the row that erupted in 2006 when he revealed in his memoir Peeling the Onion that as a teenager he had served as a tank gunner in the Nazi Waffen SS.
In 2012, at the age of 84, he was declared persona non grata in
following publication of a prose poem called What Must Be Said in which he criticised Israel
as being a threat to world peace because of its nuclear capability and
hostility towards .
A few weeks later in a poem entitled Europe’s Disgrace, he chastised his own country’s treatment of debt-ridden
, which he called “a country
sentenced to poverty.” Greece
That same year, the São Lourenço cultural centre sadly closed and, because of heart problems and advancing age, the otherwise indomitable Grass was never able to visit his cherished
The writing did not end there, however, for he was working on a new book during his last days. He died, of a lung infection, surrounded by his family.
He is survived by his second wife, Ute Grunert, four children from his first marriage to Anna Margareta Schwarz, two stepchildren from his second marriage, two children born to other partners, and 18 grandchildren.
Grass at a book fair in
last month Germany