Fifty years after he rocketed to the international stage with "The Tin Drum," Gunter Grass is still surprised at the overnight success of his tale of World War II as told through the eyes of a stunted boy and his toy instrument.
Grass -- who turned 82 Friday -- paused when asked the reason for the book's global appeal during an interview in the central German university town of Goettingen.
"Perhaps because it's a good book," he quipped.
His pivotal work has been translated into about 40 languages. It helped earn Grass the Nobel Prize in literature in 1999 and a standing as one of the world's literary giants.
The anniversary of "The Tin Drum" is being marked by publication of nearly a dozen new translations that were unveiled at the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair this week.
Next fall he plans to bring out his newest work of prose, but he refused to reveal any details about it, saying only, "It's in the works."