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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 Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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"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
“An anthropological love story that’s spit-out-your-schnitzel funny. She had me at wohngemeinschaften.”
- Pamela Druckerman, author of New York Times Bestselling Bringing Up Bébé
"I don't know the German for 'madcap romp' (and I wouldn't be able to pronounce it anyway), but SCHADENFREUDE is a rip from the start, cursing its way from conceited high school boys to fluorescent dance clothes that just don't work in the US. Behold, the follies of all us childlike adults!"
- Rosecrans Baldwin, author of Paris, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down
“A brain-pleasing page-turner.”
―J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"A fun, wickedly intelligent book about failure, Kafka, and what it means to slowly perfect a language for one's own place in the world. Schuman throws herself headlong into the strange intersections between American grandiosity and German self-effacement with boundless energy, insight, and no shortage of wonderful, cringeworthy moments. What a rewarding, hilarious read."
― Mike Scalise, The Brand New Catastrophe
"Schuman’s youth in the 1990s plays out through the nine chapters of her hilarious memoir... A comedic patchwork of quirky anecdotes written in smooth, sometimes-cocky prose, liberally sprinkled with free-flowing expletives and consistent sincerity. Schuman’s droll, self-deprecating, wild life (so far) will find particular appeal with readers who enjoy memoirs that don’t take themselves too seriously."
― Kirkus Reviews
"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."
― Publishers Weekly
"Her stories of traveling in Europe, taking language classes, and falling in love may be cringe-worthy at times, but they’re also fun."
About the Author
Rebecca Schuman is a frequent contributor to Slate, where she writes about higher education, Germany, popular culture and parenting. She holds a PhD in German from the University of California, Irvine. Schadenfreude, A Love Story is her first book.
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As a woman who is probably the same age as Rebecca's parents - both college professors - and having children the same age as Rebecca, I've long been cognizant of an often lengthy forced adolescence. A disappointing job market in the past 20 years and increased chances at advanced education has given many of today's young adults advanced degrees but little opportunity to put them to use. Rebecca, who writea wittily about her life and the people she's met along the way, seems almost a casualty of this economic paradigm.
If you're looking for a book about moving to Germany and reinventing yourself, don't read this book, because, frankly, you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a smart, snarky read by a young woman who seems quite lovable and who is making her way in the world, pick "Schadenfreude" up and enjoy it.
Schuman's simultaneous accounts of living in academia and living in Berlin capture the allure and alienation of both subjects, the alternating admiration and irritation. Having lived in Berlin at approximately the same time for similar reasons, I found her descriptions fit so well and rang so true that I couldn't put the book down...and they also made me squirm with remembered discomforts.
Great wit...engaging voice...cringe-worthy accuracy.