There’s a moment in Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine when Rosa, the book’s comically antiheroic narrator, tries to restore order to a chaotic situation. Rosa’s granddaughter, Aminat, has become violently ill, and their flatmate Dieter has started to panic. Rosa, who prides herself on her unfailing sangfroid and icy composure, attempts to take control:
“Calm down, calm down,” I said. “This is Germany. Nothing bad happens to people here.”
Dieter looked at me as if I were crazy. He often looked at me that way.
Dieter’s not the only one. It ...
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