German writer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972. Heinrich Böll portrayed Germany after World War II with a deep moral vision and attacked the materialistic values of the post-war society. With the writer Günter Grass, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999, Böll played an unwanted role as a sort of national conscience. Böll's unorthodox Catholic belief added also a spiritual content to his stories, which were anchored in the present-day reality.
Böll's early novels dealt with the despair of soldiers' lives, the oppressive cruelties he witnessed in his youth and in military service. From the "worm's-eye" view of World War II his scope widened gradually on the reality of modern German society. In a 1952 essay, Böll accepted the label "rubble literature" as a designation of literary trend which focused on the war, coming home, and reconstruction. Böll wanted to find a realism that would correspond "to the laconic nature of the generation which has 'come home', a generation that knows there is no home for them on this earth."
The 1972 Nobel Prize: "...for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature."