dementia narrative, empathy, German women's writing, Katharina Hagena, Kathrin Gerlof
As the population ages and dementia becomes more commonplace, we have seen a corresponding increase in the frequency and popularity of works of fiction about this illness. This article looks at two recent German novels that feature characters with dementia, Katharina Hagena’s Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen [The Taste of Apple Seeds] (2008) and Kathrin Gerlof’s Alle Zeit [‘All the Time’] (2009). I explore how literary texts can encourage readers to engage with the human side of this dementia by allowing them to imagine what it might feel like to care for a loved one with this debilitating illness or to develop dementia themselves. I further examine how this insight can be made even more potent when the writer incorporates particular narrative strategies and stylistic devices that replicate the confusion and disorientation that are central to dementia. Ultimately, I make a case for the particular role that fictional literature can play in promoting empathy for people with dementia and their caregivers.