• Year Published: 1959.
  • Pages: 304.

Billiards at Half Past Nine Summary


Billiards at Half Past Nine or Billard um halb zehn in German is a 1959 novel that was written by the German author Heinrich Boll. The novel is based on the day of September the 6, 1958 with sections of the story stretching back through the use of allusions and flashbacks as well as the reenactment of memories of the characters.

The novel focuses on the history of the Faehmel family, a history that begins from the end of the 19th century to the present-day which is 1958. The novel is a portrayal of the position the author took on Nazism as well as the war in general.   


The narrative is relayed in form of a story that seems to reflect the author’s personal attitude and opinion towards war in general. Leonore, the secretary to Robert Faehmel describes Robert as someone who is meticulous in everything he does. As an old friend of Faehmel calls at the office, Leonore sends him to the Prince Heinrich Hotel where Robert is apparently is on a daily basis from 9:30 to 11:00 am. The visitor who we later learn is known as Nettlinger is denied access by the hotel bellboy, Jochen. Jochen claims his patron is in the billiard room and wouldn’t want to be disturbed.

As Robert narrates his life to Hugo upstairs, we learn that his old friend was once a Nazi policeman but what does he want? Robert and his friend, Schrella, both of whom were school mates were vehemently opposed to the Nazis and it is here that we learn Schrella disappeared after being beaten by Nettlinger and Old Wobbly who was their gym teacher who was also a Nazi policeman. Did Nettlinger have a hand in the disappearance?

However, Nettlinger and Old Wobbly did more than just beat Schrella

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