Günter Wilhelm Grass (German: [ˈɡʏntɐ ˈɡʁas]; 16 October 1927 – 13 April 2015) was a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor, and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). As a teenager, he served as a drafted soldier from late 1944 in the Waffen-SS, and was taken prisoner of war by U.S. forces at the end of the war in May 1945. He was released in April 1946. Trained as a stonemason and sculptor, Grass began writing in the 1950s. In his fiction, he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood.
Grass is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), a key text in European magic realism. It was the first book of his Danzig Trilogy, the other two being Cat and Mouse and Dog Years. His works are frequently considered to have a left-wing political dimension, and Grass was an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The Tin Drum was adapted as a film of the same name, which won both the 1979 Palme d'Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1999, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature, praising him as a writer "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history".
He is also known as Günter Wilhelm Grass and Guenter Grass.
Grass died of a lung infection on April 13, 2015, in a Lübeck hospital at the age of 87. He was buried in a private family observance April 25 in Behlendorf, 15 miles south of Lübeck, where he had lived since 1995.
U.S. novelist John Irving delivered the main eulogy at a memorial service for Grass on May 10 in the Theater Lübeck. Among those who attended were German President Joachim Gauck, federal Commissioner for Culture Monika Grütters (de), and Paweł Adamowicz, mayor of Gdańsk. Grütters, in remarks to mourners, noted that Grass through his work championed the independence of artists and of art itself. Adamowicz said Grass had "bridged the chasm between Germany and Poland," and praised the novelist's "unwillingness to compromise."