Swiss Bites. All you need to know about Swiss Literature in the UK, May 2020. Still at home.

In strange times, a sure place to look to for guidance has always been the literary realm. I’ve been thinking, for example, about the opening lines of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” 

Our times may be strange, but the sky is still up, and even if the obstacles may at times seem mountain-high, we will build on the rubble, as we always do. As Camus wrote in The Plague: “There is more to admire in men than to despise”. Let’s believe in people!

Photo of Pascale Kramer by Corinne Stoll

Pascale Kramer, BCLT Summer School & French translation mentorship

We are thrilled to confirm that the BCLT (British Centre for Literary Translation) Summer School and the French translation mentorship, both funded by Pro Helvetia, have not been knocked off course by you-know-what and will be going ahead in July. It will run online from 20th-24th July.

Pascale Kramer (pictured above), major Swiss French author, will be the Guest Swiss Author this year. In 2017 she was awarded the Swiss Grand Award for Literature for her canon of work, the highest possible literary accolade in Switzerland. Author of over a dozen books, she has been awarded over half a dozen literary prizes, and is still going strong. She’ll be appearing with Adriana Hunter who’ll be running the summer school. 

BCLT summer school has many fans. Last year’s BCLT focus author, Swiss Italian Elvira Dones (who talked about Sworn Virgin and how she was published in English), was thrilled: “BCLT is a wonderful place to be. Working with such an amazing group of authors and translators, living and breathing literature every day, what an enriching experience on so many levels.” Translator Shaun Whiteside echoes her enthusiasm: “It is not just fantastic for the translators but also for the writers… They sometimes have to engage with questions that they weren’t even aware existed.”

The BCLT summer school application deadline has been extended to 18th May. Spread the word!

Photo of Pascal Janovjak by BAK / Younès Klouche
Quentin Moroun
Photo of Roland Buti by Sébastien Agnetti
Photo of Antoinette Rychner by Mario del Curto

Announcing (Swiss) French Book Week

We at Literally Swiss and Pro Helvetia are creating a virtual (Swiss) French Book Week  as a curtain-raiser to BCLT.  It will run from 13th – 17th July on social media and the Literally Swiss pages of EuroLitNetwork .

We mentioned Pascale Kramer above, and Elisa Shua Dusapin has been making waves as well. Next spring Max Lobe will be published by Hope Road – Patrick Gale loves his title Far From Douala

“Lobe’s wonderfully energised voice immediately buttonholes his reader and leads them on an utterly unexpected journey across Cameroon. His eye is as compassionate as his characterisations are rich. I only wish this novel had been twice the length. You are in for a treat.” 

Other Swiss French writers to put on your radar with this exercise: Pascal JanovjakQuentin MouronRoland Buti, and Antoinette Rychner all pictured above. Read more about Swiss French literature here.

We will keep you posted on online interviews, social media, authors and translators, book recommendations – a combination of perambulation and penetration, some fun and some real depth. The Institut Français is coming on board as well. And of course, we would love you to be involved.

For those of you who like literature not only in the written form, but also on screen from time to time: “Le milieu de l’horizon”, the movie adaptation from the Roland Buti novel, has won this year’s Swiss Film Prize. WATCH IT HERE

Life in Switzerland right now

As you may remember, we told you last month about Pro Helvetia’s initiative “Close distance”, a call for projects to find new art formats that deal innovatively with limited mobility in the age of Covid-19. What a response this has had!

Seraina Rohner, Head of Innovation and Society at Pro Helvetia, says:

“Within a short time, numerous projects have already been submitted to us.  We were impressed and delighted by the wealth of ideas submitted from a wide range of artistic disciplines and language regions in Switzerland”. 

The first projects have been selected: They range from a virtual writing workshop via facebook, over a platform for photographers promoting photography at home with what they have at hand to a compilation of alternative electronic music created by over 150 Swiss musicians within a very short time. More projects will follow no doubt – creativity in these extraordinary times is finding remarkable outlets. 

Browse through the selected projects here .

Also, Solothurn Literature Days goes online, rather like Hay, this month. Enjoy.

Keep safe, keep sane, read the many Swiss words, eat and enjoy.


Category: LS News


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