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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: August 2014

22 - “Amerika ist alles und das Gegenteil von allem. Amerika ist anders.” Milena Moser's Travel Guide to San Francisco (2008)


The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (New Zurich newspaper), Switzerland's most prestigious German-language daily, labeled Milena Moser the “literary mother of desperate Swiss housewives.” Moser's novels address the daily lives of Swiss women, stuck between self-inflicted expectations, perfectionism, and conformism, and offer their readers “creative lines of escape.” In 1998, Moser and her family emigrated to San Francisco, where she attempted to find a new home for her family and her protagonists. The result was mixed: after eight years Moser reluctantly returned to conservative Switzerland, having been unable to secure a green card and permanent status in the United States through her writing. Moser also faced artistic challenges: writing about the tribulations of Swiss women turned out to be more difficult while living in the freewheeling atmosphere of San Francisco.

In 2008, Moser released the travel guide Flowers in Your Hair: Wie man in San Francisco glücklich wird (Flowers in Your Hair: How to Achieve Happiness in San Francisco). The book is part travel guide to San Francisco, part memoir, part love letter, and part farewell to the city Moser loves. As she did in earlier writings, Moser irreverently turns genre conventions upside down. In this book, she mixes the autobiographical with travel tips about hotels, restaurants, and sights, and guides her readers to a city and country viewed through her idiosyncratic lens. The heterogeneity of the genres used in Flowers deliberately seems to represent the heterogeneity of Moser's experiences.