Two old men roam through Berlin observing life in the former German Democratic Republic after the fall of the Wall in 1989. The men are Theo Wuttke, a former East German cultural functionary, keen observer, and gifted speaker; and Ludwig Hoftaller, a mid-level spy who can serve the Prussian police, or the Gestapo, or the East German Stasi with equal dedication. Both men are employed by the Treuhand-the agency in charge of privatizing former East German state enterprises-which occupies the building in Berlin that was once the headquarters of Goering's Air Ministry. Wuttke, in his capacity as file courier, desperately tries to save the old-fashioned elevator, which has carried the famous and powerful up-and down again. And he comforts the disheartened head of the agency, who seeks relief from the burdens of office by roller skating around the corridors at night. This novel will stand as perhaps the most complex and challenging exploration of what Germany's recent reunification willmean-for Germans, for Europeans, for the world. Grass writes with the wit, fantasy, literary erudition, and political acerbity for which he is celebrated. And in his inimitable fashion, he tells a deeply human story laced with pain and humor in equal measure.