The 2021 Swiss Grand Prix for Literature, in the amount of 40,000 francs, is awarded to Frédéric Pajak for all of his work. The Franco-Swiss author is accustomed to distinctions, he who has already been awarded the Goncourt Biography Prize in 2019.
Frédéric Pajak, 65, who settled in Arles in the south of France, has long divided his life between Lausanne and Paris. At the same time writer, painter, designer and publisher, for twenty years he has directed the collection of ‘Cahiers dessinés’ published by Buchet-Chastel.
Author of numerous works in which text and drawing collide, in 2020 he completed the ‘Uncertain Manifesto’, a work of a few thousand pages and drawings in 9 volumes, the third of which had already received a Swiss Literature Prize in 2015.
Frédéric Pajak draws portraits of painters, thinkers and poets in this series. From the misfortune of Walter Benjamin to the multiple identities of Fernando Pessoa through the madness of Vincent van Gogh, he expresses all the nuances of melancholy, without forgetting his own, writes the Federal Office of Culture (OFC) in a press release Thursday.
Prices at libraries for the visually impaired
Every other year, OFC awards a special mediation award and a special award to a translator alternately. This year, it is therefore the mediation prize, also endowed with 40,000 francs, which is awarded jointly to four libraries for the visually impaired, blind or unable to read. These are the Bibliotheque Sonore Romande (BSR – Lausanne), the Biblioteca Braille e del libro, the Biblioteca Braille e del libro (BBR – Geneva), the Schweizerische Bibliothek für Blinde, Seh- und Lesebehinderte (SBS – Zurich) and the Biblioteca Braille e del libro. parlato (Tenero).
Alongside these two distinctions, the laureates of the Swiss Literature Prizes were also appointed. With 25,000 francs each, they are rewarded for a work published during the past literary year and benefit from support measures in order to make the winning work known throughout Switzerland. The awards ceremony will take place on May 12, 2021, in the run-up to the Literary Days Solothurn.
Swiss Literature Awards 2021
Two Romandes were awarded. The bi-national journalist Silvia Ricci Lempen, who lives in Lausanne, is awarded for The Dreams of Anna (I sogni di Anna), published by Vita Activa. This novel tells the story of five women of different nationalities and social backgrounds, whose lives take place over a century.
Released in April 2019 in French version by Editions d’en bas in Lausanne, and in October 2019 in Italian version by Vita Activa (Trieste), it is the culmination of a bilingual project, distinguished in 2015 by a scholarship of writing from the Swiss Cultural Foundation Pro Helvetia.
It consists of two original versions, neither of which is the translation of the other, and which present differences between them reflecting the specificity of their respective linguistic and cultural universes. The two versions were written in parallel, over a period of more than five years.
Corinne Desarzens, who also stays in the Vaud capital, receives an award for The moon moves slowly but it crosses the city, published by Éditions la Baconnière. Getting to know each other by learning foreign languages is the writer’s recipe for getting out of the inter-self which too often stifles. In about forty abundant stories, it invites us to become again porous to the world.
Alexandre Lecoultre lives in Bern, straddling French-speaking Switzerland and German-speaking Switzerland. The Swiss-speaking anthropologist publishes his first novel with a title in German, Peter und so weiter, published by L’Âge d’Homme. He tells in French and in Schwyzerdütsch a ‘tiny life’, that of a marginal in an German-speaking village, which resembles ‘Pipe’ in ‘Les petits fugues’ by filmmaker Yves Yersin, but younger.
Les quatre auteurs alémaniques, dont le travail est salué par l’OFC, sont Dragica Rajcic Holzner, Glück, Der Gesundheit Menschenversand (Zurich), X Schneeberger, Neon Pink & Blue, Verlag die Brotsuppe (Berne), Benjamin von Wyl, Hyäne – a redemption fantasy, lectorbooks (Bâle) et Levin Westermann, regarding the shadows, Verlag Matthes & Seitz (Bienne).