With her jaunty dissection of the sex life and the private grooming habits of the novel's 18-year-old narrator, Helen Memel, Charlotte Roche has turned the previously unspeakable into the national conversation in Germany.
Since its debut in February, the novel (`Feuchtgebiete', in German) has sold more than 680,000 copies, and is the biggest selling book on Amazon anywhere in the world.
The book is a headlong dash through every crevice and byproduct, physical and psychological, of its narrator's body and mind. It is difficult to overstate the raunchiness of the novel. Wetlands opens in a hospital room after an intimate shaving accident. It gives a detailed topography of Helen's hemorrhoids, continues into the subject of anal intercourse and only gains momentum from there, eventually reaching avocado pits as objects of female sexual satisfaction and - here is where the debate kicks in - just possibly female empowerment. Clearly the novel has struck a nerve, catching a wave of popular interest in renewing the debate over women's roles and image in society.