Swiss Literature Awards

presented by the Federal Office of Culture FOC

Every year, the Federal Office of Culture awards the Swiss Grand Award for Literature as well as five to seven Swiss Literature Awards. The latter are awarded for literary works that have been published in the previous year, in one of the national languages or in a Swiss dialect. The Swiss Grand Prix for Literature honours a personality who stands out through their exceptional dedication to Swiss literature.

In addition, every other year there’s a Special Award for Translation, awarded to an outstanding translator.

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Sample translations of the 2022 laureates’ texts can be provided upon request.

Yari Bernasconi
La casa vuota

Author Yari Bernasconi
Genre Poetry
Publisher Marcos y Marcos, Milan
ISBN 9788892940390
Translation rights

Dana Grigorcea
Die nicht sterben

Author Dana Grigorcea
Genre Novel
Publisher Penguin Random House, Munich
ISBN 978-3-328-60153-1
Translation rights Gesche Wendebourg,

Christian Kracht

Author Christian Kracht
Genre Novel
Publisher Kiepenheuer & Witsch,
ISBN 978-3-462-05083-7
Translation rights Charles Buchan, The Wylie Agency,

Isabelle Sbrissa
tout tient tout

Author Isabelle Sbrissa
Genre Poetry
Publisher héros-limite, Geneva
ISBN 978-2-88955-039-5
Translation rights

Rebecca Gisler

Author Rebecca Gisler
Genre Novel
Publisher Ed. Verdier, Lagrasse
ISBN 978-2-37856-113-0
Translation rights Colette Olive,

Ariane Koch
Die Aufdrängung

Author Ariane Koch
Genre Novel
Publisher Suhrkamp, Berlin
ISBN 978-3-518-12784-1
Translation rights Nora

Fabienne Radi
Émail diamant

Author Fabienne Radi
Genre Short stories
Publisher art & fiction, Geneva
ISBN 978-2-940570-94-2
Translation rights Marie-Claire Grossen,

Special Award for Translation

Maurizia Balmelli was born in 1970 and grew up on the Swiss side of Lake Maggiore. She translates literary works from the French and the English, including by Aleksandar Hemon, Martin Amis, Mary Gaitskill, Wallace Stegner, Ian McEwan, Sally Rooney, Miriam Toews, J. M. G. Le Clézio, Emmanuel Carrère and Ágota Kristóf. She was awarded the 2010 Gregor von Rezzori Prize for her translation of Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree and the Schiller Foundation’s 2014 Terra Nova Prize for her translation of Noëlle Revaz’s Rapport aux bêtes (Cuore di bestia / Von wegen den Tieren). She lives in Paris.

Martin Amis, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Emmanuel Carrère, Marie Darrieussecq, Jean Echenoz, Mary Gaitskill, Aleksandar Hemon, Ágota Kristóf, J.M.G. Le Clézio, Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, Noëlle Revaz, Yasmina Reza, Sally Rooney, Miriam Toews, Fred Vargas: contemporary literature – and not just in French and English – would be very different without these authors. The fact that many of their works are widely read in the Italian-speaking world today is thanks to the work of Maurizia Balmelli, who is among the most important translators into Italian from two major languages. As the ‘voice’ of major contemporary authors (as well as such prominent twentieth-century writers as Georges Perec, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Romain Gary), Balmelli, who was born and raised in Switzerland (in Locarno), has succeeded in building strong bridges between different literary cultures. Her ongoing commitment to teaching and education through writing courses and writing schools has also been tremendously valuable. Her translations have been published by the most important Italian houses, most notably by Einaudi and Adelphi (indeed, they are also among the most significant and renowned publishing houses on a European level) as well as Marcos y Marcos. A hallmark of her work is the ability to work with the target language to find a rhythm and measure in her sentences that match the uniqueness of the authors in the source language. If Italian, as the poet and Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale put it, is ‘our difficult multisyllabic language’, then Balmelli manages to reproduce even the more spare passages of ‘her’ writers magnificently – for instance in the work of Cormac McCarthy – by tightening it. In Maurizia Balmelli’s hands, Italian prose possesses a mutable and precise contemporary style that does justice to the vibrancy of international literature.

Swiss Grand Prix for Literature

Reto Hänni

Reto Hänny was born in 1947 in Tschappina, a small mountain village in Graubünden, eastern Switzerland. He debuted in 1979 with Ruch: Ein Bericht and caused a major sensation for the first time with Zürich, Anfang September, a report on the youth protests that took place in Zurich in 1980. The result was a concise but all the more condensed work of literature.

The possible is monstrous – it is with Dürrenmatt, then, that Sturz: Das dritte Buch vom Flug begins. It is Reto Hänny’s most condensed, thickest book, and also his life-long project.

It’s the little things that get the narrative rolling: a woodworm tapping, say, or else postcards from America, but it is propelled by his grandmother’s variations on family history, by the dragging sound of a harmonium and the droning echo of military aircraft. Above all, by the books that a teacher gives his pupil during his days off over Whitsun.

And as this pupil goes down into the valley, but never settles, a kind of literature begins: an echoing cacophony of things experienced, read, imagined. Scores of pastiches, palimpsests and paraphrases are composed, a language of reminiscences and references – to James Joyce and Jean Paul – and everything in the text is always reflected on a musical level as well, right down to the syntax and punctuation. Hänny’s second novel Flug was an attempt to look over and beyond, a text to be written over and painted over again and again.

Now he has rewritten Flug once more, composing his life’s work with even greater polyphony, enriching these Segantini landscapes with everything he has accumulated on a massive scale over the years. This technique, in which memory becomes ever more precise, is most obvious when one looks at Reto Hänny’s own copy: it keeps getting bigger, because so many paragraphs have been reworked: long sentences formulated more precisely, new pages glued in. The enormous book can barely be closed – and must be read and re-read again from scratch.