Every year, around a dozen domestic and foreign institutions contribute to a rich, high-caliber program at Leukerbad Literary Festival though joint projects, collaborations and contact. In 2015, the Odessa Literary Festival was first staged—a co-production by the Leukerbad International Literary Festival and the International Literature Festival Berlin, which is currently in its ninth year.
Zweisprachigkeit, bilinguisme: bilingualism in Valais is a priority. The canton is always striving for a unity that transcends the linguistic divide. There are, in theory, superficial solutions, but in practice, it is back-breaking work. The mutual apprehension and the sense of not knowing the other run deep. There is only one remedy for this: encountering each other. And again and again.
The Schuhlhausroman / Roman d’école / Schoolhouse novel has embraced this strategy. The project—recently awarded the Swiss the Special Prize for Mediation—was founded in Zurich in 2005. Since then, 200 classes in 17 cantons have written collective novels in one of the four national languages and/or other dialects, always with the guidance of professional writers. Since 2009, this project has expanded in Germany and Austria, where more than 100 schoolhouse novels have been written to date.
And just as with books written by one author, the students’ efforts to create the collective schoolhouse novel will be celebrated with a launch of the finished texts. In recent years, there have been several hundred such “group readings,” not only in cultural centers like literature houses, theaters, and museums, but also in taverns and parliament buildings – or in former thermal baths: the current Galerie St. Laurent Leukerbad.
For the writing students, these events are exciting, at once a challenge and an impertinence. They are relaxed and at ease when they read their work for the Federal Council, however, nothing is harder for them than to perform for their peers. No audience is more critical or more ruthless than their contemporaries – because they can compare directly.
In this context, these two classes from the OS Leukerbad and the CO Monthey, appearing at this year at the Leukerbad International Literary Festival deserve our special respect. And, in fact, these 30 students will appear twice on 23 June: first at midday in the Château of Monthey, where the newly founded writers’ and literature house MEEL Maison des écrivaines, des écrivains, et des littératures is based. After this lunchtime reading, they will take a bus into the Dala Valley to the “Rückspiel” in St. Laurent.
The traveling party on this literary journey across linguistic and other divides will include the two writing coaches, Nicolas Couchepin and Rolf Hermann, the director of the MEEL Abigail Seran, Leukerbad principle Juventa Zengaffinen, teachers Stéphanie Dias, Bettina Gruber, André Marty, Christine Maxwell, Véronique Borgeaud and Bernard Mariéthoz. In Monthey, headmaster Nicolas Rey-Bellet will offer words of greeting and in Leukerbad, municipal councilor Ralph Lorenz will welcome the audience and participants.
This is how people are brought together.
As an appetizer, we have the flap copy of schoolhouse number 143
Ein Tag mit James (A Day with James):
Do you know Leukerbad? Do you know that the American writer James Baldwin lived in Leukerbad in 1951? Was it really 1951? Wasn’t it just last week? Or maybe yesterday? In this book, James Baldwin returns to Leukerbad. There he meets a group of teenagers who show him what life in Leukerbad is like today. What, they wonder, might the famous author want to do? Go skiing? Or horseback riding? Or perhaps he would like a fondue or a cheeseburger? If you want to know about James Baldwin, Leukerbad and the 9th grade OS class: read o
The schoolhouse novel from Monthey was still in progress at the time this program was finished.
Leukerbad students’ reading: Friday, 23 June, 17
For more information: www.schulhausroman.ch, www.romandecole.ch
In cooperation with MEEL Monthey. With the generous support of the municipality of Leukerbad, the ‘Kulturfunken’ section of the cultural office of the canton Valais, and the Romandy Lottery.
The Center for Literary Translation in Lausanne (CTL) was founded in 1989 with the aim of providing a platform for conversation about literary translation and for dialogue between theory and practice as well as between translators. Its field of activity is broad and multi-faceted: in addition to seminars, conferences, and scholarly research projects at the University of Lausanne, the CTL organizes readings with authors and translators of all languages. At the conferral of the Swiss Special Prize for Mediation, which the Federal Office of Culture awarded the CTL in 2019, the laudation stated: “The Center for Literary Translation shows the importance of translation and engages in promoting it and in the richness and joys it offers.”
The CTL also publishes a series of literary translations and theoretical works from the field of translation science. In addition, the center collaborates on translation projects with various Swiss publishing houses and institutions.
News from all areas of literary translation—workshop registrations, readings, recent developments in the profession—can be found on the CTL website. A database of literary translators in Switzerland is also available on the site.
For more than ten years, the University of Lausanne has offered a Masters of Letters in “Literary Translation” covering ten different languages from German to Urdu with the goal of fostering new generations of translators in Switzerland. As a complement to this program the “Gilbert Musy Program – Master Class in Literary Translation” has, since 2018, recognized a world-class translator for the quality of his or her work with a stipend. A master class and other event formats offer an opportunity to discuss the craft and art of translation. In spring 2023, the award will go to Marion Graf, a literary critic, editor (of La Revue de Belles-Lettres, among others), and translator of German and Russian literature into French. On three Saturdays, she will accompany emerging translators in their “mission impossible” of writing a meaningful and correspondingly voiced original “poème” in French using the images, rhythms, and intricate sentences of the original.
The Spycher: Leuk Literature Prize, awarded annually by the Schloss Leuk Foundation, remains unique. The prizewinners are invited to Leuk for five years.
Most unique are the many wonderful friendships with the people and the place that arise as a result of this prize. Felicitas Hoppe has regularly returned to Leuk for years and, with her story Der beste Platz der Welt (The Best Place in the World), she wrote a lasting literary love letter to it. Walks in the area inspire Thomas Lehr to write literary texts, which he publishes in the NZZ. Radka Denemarková, the 2020 prizewinner, not only wrote a novel during her stay in Leuk but also made many friends among the residents of Leuk. There are many more examples of all that a literary prize makes possible: encounters, inspiration, and appreciation.
This year’s winner, the Slovenian writer Aleš Šteger enhances the list of previous Spycher: Leuk Literature Prize winners, which includes Zsófia Bán, Lukas Bärfuss, Joanna Bator, Marcel Beyer, John Burnside, Mircea Cărtărescu, Radka Denemarková, Gerhard Falkner, Lavinia Greenlaw, Durs Grünbein, Felicitas Hoppe, Stefan Hertmans, Thomas Hettche, Michael Hofmann, Barbara Honigmann, Helena Janeczek, Abbas Khider, Barbara Köhler (1959–2021), László Krasznahorkai, Thomas Lehr, Sibylle Lewitscharoff (1954–2023), Martin Mosebach, Marie NDiaye, Ulrich Peltzer, Michael Roes, Daniel de Roulet, Gilles Rozier, Judith Schalansky, Katharina Schultens, Mikhail Shishkin, Alissa Walser, and Adam Zagajewski (1945–2021).
The jury—Thomas Geiger, Sabine Dörlemann, and Christian Döring—will nominate this year’s prizewinner in June.
The prize ceremony for the 2023 Spycher: Leuk Literature Prize will take place on Sunday, 17 September 2023 at 11 am in Schloss Leuk.
28th Leukerbad International Literary Festival: