Foreword to the German Edition
by Vito von Eichborn
Why this book as Book of the Month?
„Quite simply: because it is fully convincing for me. This is the book of a South African, who writes about and for us Germans. Her English is indeed literary, but so simply that upper level school English suffices in order to read it fluently. There are also books about travelling here there and everywhere, Kapuscinsky tells us of Africa, a novel evolving in Johannesburg – therefore it would be absurd if such a clever, witty and disarming book such as this should not find enough German readers, despite the fact that it is in English.
The author takes a
very critical stand towards us Germans while at the same time attacking and
dismantling many prejudices. She confirms however many German characteristics.
For the terms Basteln (arts and crafts), Wandern (hiking) and Putzen (cleaning)
there are unfortunately no adequate English translation.
“But day to day stuff can’t carry a book…”
“Aw come on: Christmas
traditions and academic titles, carnival and ecology, fighting for a work
permit, not to mention the endless and for the author incomprehensible
bureaucracy. ethnic German immigrants, foreigners, the social state, new laws,
Karl Marx and the Wall, the treatment of kindergarten children and the
ridiculous fact that most German school children are finished and home at
lunchtime. Eating habits, Bavaria
and the Stasi, the war, Germans dealing with their history and Satre as
prisoner of war…”
“That is indeed a broad spectrum. It certainly sounds exciting. How does she manage such an enormous subject matter?
“That I often asked
myself too, how does she manage to completely captivate me. On the one hand,
she compiles one story after another, observations, experiences and reflections
– all this then comes together as a unit. It is not, the insights of an ethnologist,
as in the legendary book ’Deep in Bavaria’, rather she lives in the midst of it
all. She allows her husband, friends and strangers to speak. Everything is told
with much humour and astonishment at our strange habits and excesses in an
attempt to understand us. This, in the light of office-krauts and cleaning
fanatics is not an easy task”.
“She leaves nothing out, even the question: How could these Germans commit such atrocious acts, is not spared. However she does not condemn, instead she holds an elegant distance to the past and present. She concludes with the event which reconciled us with the world, the World Cup in 2006”.
“This book is funny and true-to-life, reflective, precise and all-round entertaining. After completing it one can see our nation and ourselves in a different light”.