Foreword to the German Edition

An Excerpt

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”.


Vito von Eichborn - Edition BOD

Vito Von Eichborn is the founder of the Eichborn Publishing House in 1980 and one of Germany's most innovative publishers. Each month the renowned publisher singles out one book, from among the 500 books published a month by BoD, which he believes deserves a wider readership .It is then published under his auspices in the Edition BoD.