Yesterday the publishers Ullstein sent out a list of Helene Hegemann's sources for Axolotl Roadkill. And the magazine Bücher went and put them online (scroll down to pdf). So now's your chance to make up your mind. According to Ullstein the poached bits make up less than half a percent of the book. What's clear, though, is that much of the sections on Berghain and heroin consumption is closely inspired by and modified from reformed blogger Airen's book Strobo.
My final word is this:
There are two separate issues at stake here. The first is that Hegemann shouldn't have lifted from other people's work without crediting them. She got caught, she owned up, and now they're credited. I know I'm going to get more anonymous comments on this, but she didn't harm anyone. She didn't put a bomb under anyone's car, she didn't steal anyone's boyfriend, she didn't give anyone a Chinese burn in the playground. To put it bluntly, I don't understand why such a wave of hate has descended upon her. Unless, of course, people don't like seeing young women being successful in such a spectacular way.
The second issue is the quality of the book now that we know exactly which words are Hegemann's and which are other people's. Because I for one am not prepared to dismiss the novel out of hand because of the way it was written. And I stand by my opinion that Axolotl Roadkill is a good book, tackling much more than just heroin and Berghain, featuring genuine linguistic invention and capturing the spirit of Berlin as it is now. Above all, it paints a picture of a severely disturbed narrator who doesn't in fact come of age - instead refusing to do so like all those around her, living the lives of hedonistic teenagers well into their 40s.
And that, for all those clamouring for authenticity, is the real thing.