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Schadenfreude, A Love Story

Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


"This book is a wild and wonderful ride. Your guide, Rebecca Schuman, is a super-smart and very funny person who writes brilliantly about Germany and Germans (who are not what you think) and being young and insane and life in general and… just read it, OK?"
-Dave Barry

Sometimes Love Gets Lost in Translation

You know that feeling you get watching the elevator doors slam shut just before your toxic coworker can step in? Or seeing a parking ticket on a Hummer? There’s a word for this mix of malice and joy, and the Germans (of course) invented it. It’s Schadenfreude, deriving pleasure from others’ misfortune. Misfortune happens to be a specialty of Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman—and this is great news for the Germans. For Rebecca adores the Vaterland with the kind of single-minded passion its Volk usually reserve for beer, soccer, and being right all the time.

Let’s just say the affection isn’t mutual.

Schadenfreude is the story of a teenage Jewish intellectual who falls in love – in love with a boy (who breaks her heart), a language (that’s nearly impossible to master), a culture (that’s nihilistic, but punctual), and a landscape (that’s breathtaking when there’s not a wall in the way). Rebecca is an everyday, misunderstood 90’s teenager with a passion for Pearl Jam and Ethan Hawke circa Reality Bites, until two men walk into her high school Civics class: Dylan Gellner, with deep brown eyes and an even deeper soul, and Franz Kafka, hitching a ride in Dylan’s backpack. These two men are the axe to the frozen sea that is Rebecca’s spirit, and what flows forth is a passion for all things German. First love might be fleeting, but Kafka is forever, and in pursuit of this elusive passion Rebecca will spend two decades stuttering and stumbling through German sentences, trying to win over a people who can’t be bothered.

At once a snapshot of a young woman finding herself, and a country slowly starting to stitch itself back together after nearly a century of war (both hot and cold), Schadenfreude, A Love Story is an exhilarating, hilarious, and yes, maybe even heartfelt memoir proving that sometimes the truest loves play hard to get.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 24, 2016 – Schuman structures this disarming memoir around nine German words, including the eponymous schadenfreude (pleasure derived from another's suffering), inviting the reader to enjoy her travails. She writes with hilarious candor about herself as an entitled teenager, complete with bleached hair and goth makeup, tormenting a German host family, and later as an assertive, vegetarian, chain-smoking 20-something sharing a loft deep in postreunification Berlin. Schuman relates her "metamorphosis into monstrous Eurotrash," complete with clashing bright separates accessorized by multiple scarves, worn year-round, to illustrate Wohngemeinschaft, the German name for an apartment shared with someone who isn't family. The concepts behind her selected German terms may be universal, but Schuman's application of them is uniquely Teutonic as she weaves anecdotes with lessons learned to hilarious effect. Schuman's journeys to Germany and her pursuit of further connection with her beloved Franz Kafka bring to mind another great travel memoirist, Geoff Dyer, writing about D.H. Lawrence. As Dyer does, Schuman entertains while relating her inner conflicts, personal and cultural hypocrisies, and overblown self-delusions during her decades-long struggle with the German language and those who speak it. Schuman's engrossing book is a feast of honesty, humility and humor, all the hallmarks of great confessional literature.
Schadenfreude, A Love Story
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Feb 07, 2017
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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