Thursday, May 15, 2008


The novel Feuchtgebiete was published in Germany earlier this year and has been in the news ever since. The book has generated an amazing amount of controversy - it sounds provocative, disturbing and utterly fascinating. Despite being Amazon’s worldwide bestseller in March, it has yet to find an English language publisher.

Feuchtgebiete which translates roughly as ‘wetlands’ or ‘moist patches’, is the first novel by thirty-year-old Charlotte Roche, born in England but raised in Germany. She has been a recognizable face in her adopted home country since she started working as a presenter on Viva, the German equivalent of MTV, in the mid-1990s. But her first novel has lifted her to a new level of notoriety.

According to what I've been able to glean from websites like this, Feuchtgebiete is narrated by an outspoken 18-year old girl whose childlike stubbornness is paired with a premature sense of sexual confidence. After a failed attempt to shave her private parts, she ends up in the Hospital, in the Department of Internal Medicine. She doesn’t leave the ward for the rest of the novel. Surrounded by surgical instruments and humming X-ray machines, she reflects in ever more uncomfortable detail on the eccentric wonders of the female body. By all accounts this is an explicit novel, often shockingly so, but also an accomplished literary work, which has earned comparisons with The Catcher in the Rye, the perversion of J.G. Ballard’s Crash and the feminist agenda of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch.

Granta Magazine has an in-depth interview with Roche here. If squeamish sensibilities permit it, the book will soon be available in English.

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