Thursday, 30 May 2013

Isabel Cole Presents: Franz Fühmann

My dear friend Isabel Cole is a source of inspiration at the best of times. She founded the magazine no man's land and co-founded the no man's land translation lab with me. She writes and translates and has many other talents, including cooking and arguing and knowing when to stop drinking and go home. She's also wonderfully passionate about the writers she loves. Most of whom happen to be dead, which means we will never have to fight over them.

Even more inspiringly, her translation of Franz Fühmann's The Jew Car is now out from Seagull Books. I can't very well review it because I read through part of her translation, so obviously I'm going to think it's excellent, aren't I? But you should know that the book is fascinating and revealing and beautifully written.
Each story presents a snapshot of a personal and historical turning point in the life of the narrator, beginning with childhood anti-Semitism and moving to a youthful embrace—and then an ultimate rejection—of Nazi ideology. With scathing irony and hallucinatory intensity, reflections on the nature of memory, and the individual experience of history, the cycle acquires the weight of a novel.
Isabel's passion is infectious and it makes her translation glow. Oh yes. You can see her glowing in person on 13 June in New York. I think it's at the Goethe Institut, I think it's hosted by the Bridge Series, and I think she'll be rubbing shoulders with three other bundles of awesomeness, namely Tess Lewis, Ross Benjamin and Tim Mohr.

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