Since my son may read this, I’ll just say “acute parental anxiety” ensued when, at seventeen, he decided to skip college and accept a brewing apprenticeship in Germany.  My anxiety stemmed not so much from his career choice as a beer artisan, which I see as a growth industry, but for his inability to speak fluent German.  I was pretty sure that Germany had never figured in an episode of Locked Up Abroad, but I knew it to be a country where ice cubes are extinct, no hot food is ever served before noon and t-shirts with cute sayings are universally banned. How would my son ever survive?

Then a spate of novels imported from Germany showed warm soda might be the least of his worries. These gritty page-turners reinvent the Grimm fairy tales – there’s nothing light and cheery here. Instead, Germany is depicted as a land where:snowwhite

Insular little villages hide pockets of gossipy, vengeful murderers –
Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Having a tattoo can get you burned at the stake or worse –
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

Conspiracies involving the bodies of dead foreigners occur in hospitals –
The Russian Donation by Christoph Spielberg

Coroners solve crimes via chatty post-autopsy ghosts –broken glass park
Morgue Drawer Four by Jutta Profijt

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to someone who then offers you money to impersonate them can result in terrifying consequences –
The Lie by Petra Hammesfahr

Teenage immigrants live in housing projects and write essays entitled “The Story of an Idiotic, Redheaded Woman Who Would Still Be Alive if Only She Had Listened to Her Smart, Oldest Daughter” –
Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky


My anxiety was forever put to rest by a timely visit over the May Day holiday. Who can dislike a country where flavorful, smoked beer is placed in a little red wagon and pulled from one small village to another by groups of friends celebrating with a moving picnic? Just wish they’d believe in keeping the beverages cold…

Check out my Pinterest board for more reasons to break out of your cultural box.

What country has your favorite authors?

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