In Käsebier Takes Berlin, the journalist Gabriele Tergit wrote a searing satire of the excesses and follies of the Weimar Republic. Chronicling a country on the brink of fascism and a press on the edge of collapse, Tergit’s novel caused a sensation when it was published in 1931.
In Berlin, 1930, the name Käsebier is on everyone’s lips. A literal combination of the German words for “cheese” and “beer,” it’s an unglamorous name for an unglamorous man – a small-time crooner who performs nightly on a shabby stage for labourers, secretaries, and shopkeepers. Until the press shows up.
In the blink of an eye, this everyman is made a star: one who can sing songs for a troubled time. Margot Weissmann, the arts patron, hosts champagne breakfasts for Käsebier; Muschler the banker builds a theatre in his honour; Willi Frachter, a parvenu writer, makes a killing from Käsebier-themed business ventures and books. All the while, the journalists who catapulted Käsebier to fame watch the monstrous media machine churn in amazement – and are aghast at the demons they have unleashed.
Paperback; 304 pages; 250g;