SEE ALSO: It's the TC Boyle Experience Unplugged -- in Germany and with his German fans on Twitter -
Why is T.C. BOYLE the American author of over 25 novels and short story collections, who lives in California, why is he so popular in Germany? Not just popular, but Germany is his second market, after the USA.
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T.C. BOYLE und das graphische Design -- Beispiele für Umschläge der deutschen Ausgaben
--Sandye Utley, Cincinnati, Ohio
Tod durch Ertrinken Wassermusik Wassermusik (tr. by Annette Grube) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Wassermusik Grün ist die Hoffnung Grün ist die Hoffnung (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Greasy Lake und andere Geschichten World's End World's End (tr. by Ditte König & Giovanni Bandini) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Wenn der Fluss voll Whisky wär Wenn der Fluss voll Whisky wär Wenn der Fluss voll Whisky wär (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Der Samurai von Savannah Der Samurai von Savannah Der Samurai von Savannah (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Willkommen in Wellville Willkommen in Wellville Fleischeslust (tr. by Annette Grube) (tr. by Annette Grube) (tr. by Werner Richter) Mein Abend mit Jane Austen The Tortilla Curtain América (tr. by Werner Richter) (English edition) (tr. by Werner Richter) América Riven Rock Riven Rock (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Riven Rock Der Fliegenmensch Der Polarforscher (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) (tr. by Werner Richter) Ein Freund der Erde (tr. by Werner Richter)
Last Page Update: 13 May 2001[Excerpted from Markus Schröder's book, "Nice guys finish last: Sozialkritik in den Romanen T. Coraghessan Boyle." Die Blaue Eule, Essen 1997, 257 p. ISBN: 3-89206-840-2.]
Not France, not Italy, not Spain, not Mexico, no Japan, but Germany.
He travels there regularly after each book release for 3 week PR tour with readings, signings and lectures. Immensely popular among German fans and readers who read him in Germany translation.
MS: THE TORTILLA CURTAIN It is called América here in Germany. How do you feel when you see that the titles of your novels have changed? This one is not even the worst.TCB: Well, I have to trust my translator, Werner Richter, and my publisher. I have to trust in their judgment. However, I prefer The Tortilla Curtain. Although everyone can identify with the title América on a shelf, it only focuses on one of the four main characters, whereas The Tortilla Curtain gives you the central image of the book which is that of the border, of a wall, of a fence, and so on. And so I prefer The Tortilla Curtain personally which could be very easily rendered into German. There are arguments that no one would know what it means, but of course a lot of people in the States don't know what it means either and they find out. I don't think it's necessarily bad to have an intriguing title. I'm sure I could demand that they give it the original title, but I have to trust them/MS: And the translator is praised for his work here in Germany.TCB: I understand that. He's done all of my books but one, and the only one he didn't do was Willkommen in Wellville, and that because I delivered the book so early, ahead of time, that he wasn't ready yet. He still worked on something else, so we had to get another translator [Anette Grube]. I have a sense for his translations because, for instance, the last two nights I was giving a performance [in Cologne and Bonn]. I did it with an old friend, Dr. David Eisermann of Bonn, and David would read some consecutive pieces. I would read one piece and he would read the following piece in German so I could sit there and follow it in the English text. And Werner Richter has managed to reproduce even the sentence structure and the rhythm which is no mean trick from English to German, so I guess he is pretty good.MS: So I hear you know a bit of German.TCB: Not really, not really. The only languages I speak are English and Spanish and I never really thought I would need to know German. But, since I have become so popular here and I find myself coming here so often, I decided that I should start to study German. So just this fall I began to take some classes. My wife's mother is German, she speaks German and her children speak German because they did go to the Deutsche Schule. So I thought it is time for my wife and I to speak. We're in a class right now, in fact. I will be back in that classand give them a report of my trip to Germany. In our textbook, we're following the adventures of Herr Clark who is an American businessman who goes to Germany , and goes on business, and goes to the hotel, and all these things. We have dialogues in each chapter, so the other day I asked the professor if he thought that Herr Clark will ever have a girlfriend and... (laughs) and then the professor was quite taken aback because, you see, I came into the class late, and the class had already done most of the book and what I didn't realize was that Mr. Clark is married and has four children. So i intend to report to the class when I get back that, in fact, I met Herr Clark and he is now living with his girlfriend, Dagmar, who is a stripper, in Mannheim. (laughs)MS: From the beginning on in your novels, you have had a preference for German names. In Water Music it was the city of Geesthacht--I was born only 20 miles away (Boyle laughs) --in The Tortilla Curtain it is Menaker-Mossbacher. Is this rooted in your family relationships?TCB: Yes, I think so. Give me some other examples, though.MS: For example, the name Spitzvogel in The Road to Wellville.TCB: Well, see, that is true to history. I made him up, but all the main theories in natural sciences and medicine were coming from Germany in those days. So that was just true to history.The same translator Werner Richter has done all his novels from English into German, and the translator is a German man.
TCB is loved by Germany publishers, literary critics, readers, fans, TV interviewers, bloggers and Twitter users. In fact, on Twitter, TCB has a large following of Germany-language Twitter fans on his own feed. And he replies to their tweets in German as well. Spanish is his second language, and now German is his third language. His wife's mother is a German-American and her sent her kids in the USA to German after school classes. Now TCB and his wife Karen Vashtray are taking Germany classes in California to prepare for the next PR tours after release of his next novel in a year or two. There are hundreds of videos of TCB in Germany on trains, giving interviews, readings, signing books for fans, huge lecture halls full of fans all over Germany. No other American novelist has this kind of fan base or appeal overseas and not in Germany at all. TCB is king there. Why? How did this come about? Was there one publisher in Germany who started this trend or one PR person in Berlin who started the craze of all things Boyle? On Twitter, TCB often refers to his wife Karen as "Frau B." standing for Mrs. Boyle in German. Germany readers eat up his American themes of violence, satire, humor, comedy, history, racism, gender equality, monkey sex and everything else he does so well on the printed page for over 40 years. The man is gold in Germany, in the USA too.
So why has no major media outlet like the NYT or TIME mag or Newsweek or BBC or the Guardian or anyone done a story about WHY Boyle is so popular in Germany? It's a very interesting story and someone should do it. Perhaps the Berlin bureau chief in Germany?
Or perhaps a national correspondent in the USA who can fly out to Santa Barbara and interview the author about this specific topic -- his amazing popularity in Germany, of all places. AND TCB seems to very much enjoy his trip to Germany every time. See his videos of Germany trips he re and here and here.