Regular readers will know that the writer and translator Isabel Cole is a long-standing partner in crime for me. We co-edit no man's land and co-host the no man's land literary translation lab, and we are often seen in cahoots over various other undertakings. She's been a great inspiration to me over the many years I've known her now.
So it's with a decent amount of pride and of course prejudice that I'd like to call your attention to two things Isabel has done recently. The first takes its starting point with a report in Words Without Borders on the genesis and progress of the writers' anti-surveillance appeal A Stand for Democracy in the Digital Age. It's heartening to see so many writers and readers coming together behind an important issue, and I know Isabel and the other initiators have put in months and months of hard work towards it. Please read her article and sign the petition, if you haven't done so already.
The second thing ties in so well with the first that I can't let it go unmentioned. Isabel also has an ebook out with Mikrotext, Ungesichertes Gelände. It's an epistolary love novella set amongst political activists, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Informed – almost inevitably because she is his translator – by the work of East German writer Wolfgang Hilbig, it is dark and wintry and heart-wrenching and quite the most intelligent and simultaneously beautiful and radical thing I've read in a long time. Isabel writes very precisely in German, not fulfilling that almost Orientalist cliché about exophonic writers adding "spice and sparkle" to their host language.
I can't write a proper review because I'm too biased, but the novella costs less than three euros so you can judge for yourself at the drop of a hat. Please do.