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Culture

Controversial title tops list of 2010 bestsellers

Former federal bank official Thilo Sarrazin's divisive book came out ahead for 2010 purchases in the non-fiction category. Sales figures for the title into the holiday season show no signs of slowing down.

Thilo Sarrazin and his book 'Germany Is Doing Away with Itself'

Buyers are still eager for a copy of Sarrazin's book

Thilo Sarrazin's contentious book with grim predictions for the future of Germany is number one on the year's non-fiction bestseller list, according to records published by Der Spiegel.

Since the release of "Germany Is Doing Away with Itself" in late August, author Sarrazin has made headlines for claiming that the combination of Germany's low birth-rate and immigration and social welfare policies are leading the country toward "a nightmare."

With chapter titles like "Immigration and Integration - Expect more, offer less" and "Demographics and Population Politics - More children from the intelligent before it's too late," the book was sure to spark conflict.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly condemned Sarrazin. In comments made shortly after the book's publication, she said, "His word choice, his means of expression, the stereotyping of entire groups, the exclusion and hatefulness: it's unacceptable. And it isn't going to lead to any solutions."

But neither public criticism nor the holiday season have put a damper on the book's sales. It remains at the top of Der Spiegel's current weekly bestsellers, and a representative from the German Publishers' Association told the magazine Focus, "We are selling around 10,000 copies a day at the moment."

A young woman writes integration on a chalkboard

Sarrazin's criticism has been directed especially at Muslims and Jews

Notoriety and fallout

The book's soaring numbers bring its total sales to around 1.3 million copies.

Although the controversial title has made Sarrazin a millionaire, it has also led to a number of negative consequences for the former politician and banking official.

In early September, he complied with requests from officials including President Christian Wulff to step down from his position on the executive board of Germany's Federal Bank after initially refusing to withdraw voluntarily from his office.

"That wasn't easy for me," Sarrazin said of the decision. "I considered going head-to-head with the entire political class in Germany, but no one can hold out in that situation for long."

More recent editions of the book have also seen changes in some of the most incendiary passages of the book. A line about migrants from the Middle East in which they were termed a "genetic minus" has been removed entirely, while modifiers were added to some other segments.

Former Bishop Margot Kaessmann

Kaessmann was forgiven by many for quickly owning up to her mistake

In the public eye

"Germany Is Doing Away with Itself" rounds out a list of several 2010 bestsellers by public figures. Second place for the year went to a book called "The End of Patience" by Kirsten Heisig, a juvenile criminal court judge from Berlin who died earlier in 2010. The book relates facts, stories and proposals relating to youth offenders in Germany.

Third place in nonfiction went to Margot Kaessmann for her book "In the Middle of Life," dealing with major issues that face adults aged 40 to 50. Kaessmann was the first female elected to head the council of Germany's Protestant churches but drew international media attention in 2010 after stepping down from the position following a drunk-driving incident.

On the fiction side, a novel titled "Hummeldumm" earned the honor of being 2010's bestseller. The narrative by Tommy Jaud draws on the experiences of a travel group in Namibia.

Author: Greg Wiser (dpa/afp)
Editor: Stuart Tiffen

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