Kehlmann – at last – not anymore Germany’s #1 bestseller

Bestsellers in Europe are strange these days. Since fall 2005, or for 78 weeks in a row, a novel about two learned men of the 18th century topped all the lists in Germany.  Last year in France, where traditions count probably more then anything else in culture, a book written by an American writer (in English) of Polish Jewish origins about the atrocities of the Eastern front in World War II was the main sensation of the season (Jonathan Littell’s „Les Bienveillantes“). And now, in Germany again, every reader’s eyes are on a first novel about the murder of a farmer family and the portrait of a village community as an anti-idyllic place, published – to make the success even more unlikely – by a small press that so far was better known for its post-leftist ambitions (Andrea Maria Schenkel: Tannöd. Edition Nautilus. For a German review see here.)

But at least Tannöd is a crime novel and thus fits into what seems to be the main European reading pattern in the first place: Well researched and written, somehow authentic and always highly localised crime fiction, which can be found in any country and region, from Greece to Sweden.

By the way, so much for globalisation and culture, when every village has its own direct line to fame!

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