German Feminism: Playing Dirty

Roland Magunia / AFP/GETTY

EMBRACING SCANDAL: Rapper and radio host Lady Bitch Ray

"For as long as I can remember, i have had hemorrhoids." That revelation is the first line of the novel Feuchtgebiete (Wetlands), which has dominated German bestseller lists since its publication in March, and become the first German novel ever to lead Amazon's world rankings. Some say Feuchtgebiete's astounding popularity has been fueled by prurient fascination. But others place the book and its author, Charlotte Roche, whose first novel this is, at the center of an earthy neofeminist revival out to challenge Germany's comfortable preference for ideological abstraction.

The novel tells the story of Helen, 18, who, after...

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