Allan Massie is the author of twenty novels and a dozen non-fiction books. His six novels about the Roman Empire have been widely translated, and have been particularly successful in Brazil. Gore Vidal has defined him as a “master of the long-ago historical novel”. His twentieth century novels have been compared by French critics to Balzac and Stendhal, by Muriel Spark to Thomas Mann, and by others to Evelyn Waugh. He thinks such comparisons as pleasing as they are ridiculously exaggerated. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and has been given an honorary doctorate by Strathclyde University.
The Sins of the Father: “A marvellous read, dealing with big themes in an original and striking way” – Nicholas Mosley, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
Vagabond Voices has recently republished his novella, Klaus, in an excellent new cover. The story of Klaus Mann, son of Thomas Mann, explores this writer’s struggle for identity and recognition in a time of historical and personal crisis. Klaus was an exile, forced abroad while the Nazis defiled his homeland; a homosexual in a time of bigotry and intolerance; a heroin addict slithering between recovery and relapse. Above all he was a writer.
Allan Massie vividly imagines Klaus’s final days – traipsing from cafe to bar in the haze of his various vices, replaying a lifetime of affairs and relationships while he toils over an unfinished manuscript. Encounters with family, old flames and famous literary figures reveal the stems of his fragile state. References to Mephisto, his most famous work and the battle for its German publication expose the bitter fallout with Gustaf Grundgens, his brother-in-law and ex-lover. With compassion, familiarity and subtle prose, we are led into Klaus’s mind and discover the dashed hopes and inner turmoil of a flawed, singular character.