12 Swiss Books is published annualy by the Literature and Society Department of Pro Helvetia. The magazine was launched in 2012 as the main promotional tool to raise international awareness of Swiss literature. Each issue focuses on introducing to the public (and publishers) twelve newly published works of literature in German, French, Italian, and, whenever possible, Rhaeto-Romance.
The translation of literature is one of the most important ways of promoting national literature to the outside world – and it is one of the main goals of the Literature and Society Department of Pro Helvetia. Every year, the department choses twelve of the best and most recently published works of Swiss literature, providing synopses, reviews and sample translations, and recommends a further six books, to present in the magazine. In order to be selected, these twelve books must be of outstanding literary quality. The magazine also aims to balance established and new writers, as well as demonstrating the diversity of Swiss culture.
Twelve native English language translators from Britain are asked to assess the twelve books: they write a review of each book, describing its content and qualities and giving their opinion about why the books are worthy of translation. In addition, they write a sample translation of three to five pages, so that foreign publishers interested in the books can get an impression of the style of the texts in question.
As well as introducing these twelve titles and recommending a further six, the magazine introduces readers to the winners of the annual Swiss Literature Awards and provides useful information about the support opportunities for publishers, translators and agencies, with details of residencies and grants.
Every year 12 Swiss Books includes a topical feature about a mover and shaker in the British literature and translation world, someone who has a keen interest in Swiss writing and international literature. You’ll already be familiar with this special feature as it is the brainchild of your Riveter-in-Chief, Rosie Goldsmith. Amongst others, Rosie has interviewed the critic Boyd Tonkin, translator Frank Wynne and Swiss-British author Alain de Botton (who also features in this magazine).
Every year, 12 Swiss Books is widely distributed across the world of publishers, translators and literary agents – the magazine’s main target audience. Pro Helvetia also uses the magazine across the year as a calling card for Swiss literature at a variety of key encounters with cultural institutions, book fairs and literary festivals.
The magazine is launched each year at the autumn Frankfurt Book Fair and is also available online: www.12swissbooks.
By Elke Huwiler
Elke Huwiler is a graduate of German and Spanish literature and holds a PhD in modern German literature. At Pro Helvetia, she works as an administrator for German-language literature and book services. In 2018, she was Editor-in-Chief of the 12 Swiss Books magazine.