"On the publication of his first novel, The Tin Drum, Günter Grass was acclaimed internationally as the most imaginative and powerful novelist to come out of postwar Germany. Cat and Mouse has the same setting that The Tin Drum made famous: Danzig and its petty bourgeoisie. But the art form is deliberately different. Brief and compact, it focuses on the extraordinary fate and person of one hero, Joachim Mahlke, fourteen years old when the story starts. Mahlke is set apart from his fellows by an unusual excrescence of cartilage, a huge Adam's apple, sign and symbol of precocious virility, at once embarrassing and stimulating to its bearer. When a classmate sics a cat on Mahlke's "mouse," he unwittingly launches him on a hero's career. In order to compensate for his mouse, Mahlke turns himself into an athlete and ace diver who brings up from a half-submerged ship all kinds of hardware to string around his neck. He becomes "The Great Mahlke," first to his classmates and later to the nation. Mahlke's mentors, however, refuse to be impressed. For the cat watching him, ready to pounce, is a society of petty men. Not even by gaining his country's highest honor, the Order of Merit, the most dazzling piece of hardware to cover his protuberance, does Mahlke succeed in conciliating his enemies. Mahlke is different, Mahlke is doomed. With ferocious virtuosity, Gunter Grass maps the local and mental circumstances of Mahlke's dramatic and pathetic struggle, compelling the reader's participation and belief."--Jacket.