07 February, 2009

Book of the Week: Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

Charlotte Roche is a literary phenomenon. In April last year she was the first German author to top Amazon's monthly bestseller list, outselling stellar talents such as Khaled Hosseini. Her debut novel, Wetlands, has sold half a million copies at home and is so sexually explicit that people are said to have fainted at readings.

The book certainly requires a strong stomach, discussing, as it does, the narrator's sexual preferences in minute detail, but is it cleverly packaged pornography or an erotic classic? And why have so many people chosen to read a novel that breaks all the conventional barriers of taste?

Admirers say that Roche has hit a nerve, while one German newspaper dismissed the novel as “a masturbation pamphlet”. Now British readers are about to encounter Wetlands for themselves and reach their own conclusions about a novel that has sharply divided critics on the Continent.

The novel's USP is a heroine who explores her own orifices with the fearlessness of a 15th-century adventurer; Helen's vagina, anus and bodily secretions fascinate her to a degree that will not necessarily be shared by every reader. The novel's opening sentence, an admission that Helen has always suffered from haemorrhoids, signals that nothing is off limits. Forced to rest while her doctors wait for her to defecate successfully after the operation, Helen reveals her unusual attitude to personal hygiene, which includes smearing secretions from her vagina behind her ears as a substitute for perfume: “It works wonders from the moment you greet someone with a kiss on each cheek.” Read more >>

No comments: