Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten of the best books about Germany & Germans

Steve Kettmann, an American living in Berlin since 1999, is the author, co-author or editor of eight books, including four New York Times best-sellers. He has written a weekly column for East Berlin's Berliner Zeitung and is now at work on a memoir about German-American and German identity.

One of his recommended books about Germany and Germans--"in which neither the word 'Third' nor 'Reich' figures prominently and one finds nary a reference to that failed artist from Linz, Austria"--as told to The Daily Beast:
King, Queen, Knave, by Vladimir Nabokov

It’s often said that Vladimir Nabokov wrote Lolita in his second language, an astonishing fact given the dexterous word play and masterful command of English on display in that most writerly of novels, and this is true enough. Less widely known, though, is that after leaving Russia, Nabokov lived in Berlin for some 15 years starting in 1922 and was quite obstinate, even proud, about not bothering to learn more than fledgling German. The result is a period in his work, the Berlin novels, that provide a fascinating snapshot both of the man and the city. King, Queen, Knave, somewhat mawkish in plot with its classic love triangle of woman, husband, and woman’s lover/husband’s protégé, opens with a dazzling set piece and evokes the Berlin of its day with nonpareil vividness. Sample: “Berlin! In that very name of the still unfamiliar metropolis, in the lumber and rumble of the first syllable and in the light ring of the second there was something that excited him like the romantic names of good wines and bad women.”
Read about the other books on Kettmann's list.

Also see, Steve Ozment's five best books about Germany & Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue