Maike Wetzel, German Short Story Writer, recommends…

(CLASSIC: from Kinder- und Hausmärchen, Insel Verlag)

Fairytales never lose their grip. Everything seems plain and is, yet, completely hidden. The brutal witch, the evil step-mother, the starving children and the dark forest… Come on: Even before Freud, people felt there was more to these stories than their surface reveals. The brothers Grimm are known as the “authors” of Hansel and Grethel and many other stories. But “true” fairytales come from many sources. In fact, the people who told the fairytales to the Grimms were mostly young, educated women from Hessen, Germany. Only the name of Dorothea Viehmann is occasionally mentioned.

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(MODERN: from Geschichte von Nichts, Kiepenheuer und Witsch Verlag, Cologne)

Rightfully, Peter Glaser won the prestigious Bachmannpreis with this story. At first glance, it’s fun and easy to read. It has everything: a love-interest, exotic settings, melancholy and humour. There seems to be a plot but it’s superficial. Nothing happens. Nothing makes sense. Thanks to Glaser’s humour and laconic language the reader is asked to confront questions of existential meaninglessness. Which is what his story is exploring: How do we survive in a senseless world? Some critics compared Glaser to the early Pynchon or de Lillo, others mentioned Musil or Benn. I think, Glaser is in a league of his own.

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