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Tuvia Tenenbom

I Sleep in Hitler's Room - An American Jew Visits Germany

German edition: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012 / Original US edition: Jewish Theater, New York, 2011
(German title: Allein unter Deutschen)
ca. 358 pages
Paperback
2012
Tuvia Tenenbom
Foto: Tuvia Tenenbom
© Norbert Wassmund

Tuvia Tenenbom, born 1957 in Tel Aviv, works as a playwright and journalist in New York.

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Italy (Bollati), Poland (Od Do)

A Spiegel Best Seller for 15 Weeks

About

This is a Jewish story, told the way Jewish stories are told: with biting humor. On the face of it, this book is a travelogue, a journal by a Jew from New York traveling in today's Germany. A very funny story indeed.

But this is just part of the story, a little part of it. For I Sleep in Hitler's Room is also a book about modern anti-Semitism, about hate that refuses to disappear, about a disease that won't get cured and a curse that won't let go. All told in the clearest of style and most amazing of humor. But this is not fiction. From beginning to end I Sleep in Hitler's Room is a true tale, a tale about a country that created the Holocaust and a story about a continent that moves in the direction of creating another. The target group, as in the last round, is the same: the »Jews«.

Traveling across Germany and seeking out that elusive quality that is the German character, playwright and journalist Tuvia Tenenbom wonders whether he has identified it in any one of several striking social phenomena – the proclivity of Germans to join clubs and group activities; how their aptitude for visual design shapes their architecture and their daily life; how their daily life is suffused with soccer and beer, the omnipresent beverage for all occasions; how they proudly self-define themselves by their achievements in precision technology; and, what is most disturbing to this son of Holocaust survivors, how their crushing awareness of their dark history coexists with virulent anti-Semitism and a stubborn obsession with Israel.

Tenenbom integrates deep seriousness with the most lighthearted comic touch in this critical but affectionate look at both left and right in contemporary German politics and society. Listen in on his meetings with leaders in German industry and media, including former chancellor Helmut Schmidt, as well as with scores of private citizens whose everyday conversation Tenenbom ponders even as he gently teases them.

Praise

»Over his five months of travel, Tenenbom interviewed big shots (Helmut Schmidt, Adenauer's grandson Paul), little shots, no shots, rabbis, imams, editors, protestors, hooligans, Nazis. Tenenbom is a wild writer, a real wiseass, terribly funny, sarcastic, engaging, powerful, accusatory, judgmental, good! A tremendous book.« Jack Fowler, National Review

»It is a stunner! It's funny, it's darkly funny, it's nervous-making funny!« WABC

»Tuvia Tenenbom comes off as a Jewish Hunter S Thompson, describing cringing encounters in Germany that strip away the veneer of sanity from his subjects […]. Every encounter with an interview subject is an experimental drama, redolent sometimes of Pinter or Beckett, more often of Brecht or the Marx Brothers […]. To understand Germans, one has to learn their language and live with them – or read Tenenbom’s book.« Asia Times

»So chatty and engaging and laugh-out-loud funny that it's hard to put down. Tenenbom is brilliant.« PJ Media

»A revealing investigation.« Jewish Telegraph

»Asking questions nobody else does, either because they are too improper, awkward, embarrassing or explosive, is the definition of courage - and this book is a »kamikaze» ride of discovery into Germany's national character.« Die Zeit

»Tenenbom's reportage of Germany is straightforward and readily formulated, mixed with a gentle despair and jibes, in addition to a good measure of self irony. Yet despite of the darkness Tenenbom encounters, and which he explores, this book is quite entertaining.« Spiegel Online

»Tuvia Tenenbom, which you might compare to both Michael Moore and Sasha Baron Cohen, aka Borat, is a ball of fire under his trademark suspenders.« Die Welt

»When American author Tuvia Tenenbom traveled through Germany, he discovered plenty of anti-Semitism. His book, recently published in German, has triggered an intense discussion.« Der Spiegel

»Courageous, funny, outrageously absurd.« Der Spiegel

»Exposes the roots of anti-Semitismwith biting humor.« Report

»Written in the American style of Mark Twain's The Inncoents Abroad [...] this book presents clear, pure, unfiltered truth.« Jüdische Allgemeine