The Filth That Brought Fame


I’m not sure if the feminists I know would turn Fechtgebiete into flames after reading it or not, (I’ve yet to lay my hands on it. The UK publishers are now battling to sign up this Europe’s new sensation) because some say Fechtgebiete’s astounding popularity has been fueled by prurient fascination.

, which translates as ‘wetlands’ or ‘humid zones’, is the first book by 30-year-old High Wycombe-born Charlotte Roche. It is narrated by eighteen-year-old Helen Memel, an outspoken teenager whose childlike stubbornness is paired with a premature sense of sexual confidence. After a failed attempt to shave her intimate parts, Helen ends up in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Maria Hilf Hospital. She doesn’t leave the ward for the rest of the novel. Surrounded by surgical instruments and humming X-ray machines, she reflects in ever more uncomfortable detail on the eccentric wonders of the female body. It’s an explicit novel, often shockingly so, but also a surprisingly accomplished literary work, which evokes the voice of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the perversion of J.G. Ballard’s Crash and the feminist agenda of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch.

What’s baffling about this book is that, I feel, (after reading a couple of reviews about it), it discusses about feminism somewhat differently, as compared to what many feminists would have many years ago, (or still are?) – that feminism is about joyless man haters who feel that they have been treated unjustly. That being a woman isn’t about ‘satisfying’ our other half, but about being able to embrace who we are, as we are. And pornography is a big No-No.

Now. Be prepared for this. In Roche’s book, expect ‘porn’. Expect the explicit language. Expect detailed, inventive passages of scatological or genital descriptions.

In an interview, she said, “I’m convinced that in contemporary society a lot of women have a very messed-up attitude to their own bodies. We’re obsessed with cleanliness, with getting rid of our natural excretions and our body hair. So I wanted to write about the ugly parts of the human body. The smelly bits. The juices of the female body. Smegma. In order to tell that story, I created a heroine that has a totally creative attitude towards her body – someone who has never even heard that women are supposedly smelly between their legs. A real free spirit.”

What do you think? Are we, women, bold enough to say, ‘Yeah, so here we are. These are our parts, and they do stink, at times maybe smelling like fart, or poo, or hmm…fishy? But yeah, these are some harsh realities of the flesh. Take it or leave it.’

Whatever it is, it’s your call. your prerogative. Just be who you are and be comfortable in your own skin. I just happen to prefer looking and smelling good. And so what, if my man is the one earning the bucks and wanting to pay for my meals? I’m good with that too 😛

Anyways, I’m looking forward to reading this book haha But is Malaysia going to ban it? Sigh…I hope not. But what are the chances….

Author’s background:
Charlotte Roche, born in High Wycombe but raised in Germany, has been a recognizable face in her adopted home country since she started working as a presenter on Viva, the German equivalent of MTV, in the mid-1990s. She went on to write and present programmes and late-night talk shows for Arte and ZDF, and won the highly respected Grimme Prize for television in 2004.

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