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Lively and dynamic, inventive in experimenting with new forms and in dialoguing with literary predecessors, always unique… in other words, there is plenty of talent to be found among Switzerland’s young writers. New authors generate positive surprises in publishers’ programmes and at literary events. They appeal to a growing readership at home and abroad, readers who are keen on fresh discoveries in contemporary literature. Young authors – some with work already translated, winners of awards, recipients of grants, invited for readings or for residencies – are keen to advance their careers. Key factors for this are training and, in particular, initial publications.
To meet the needs of the younger generations, new ways of promotion and training are developed. They are practice-oriented, emphasise professional exchange and mentoring, and provide young writers with different forms of confirmation in their choice of profession. Ultimately, however, just like the road of life, the road to literature is unique for each budding writer. This diversity is key to the current richness and vivacity of the Swiss literature scene.
Programmes and events
Pro Helvetia fosters aspiring young writers by providing them with access to educational programmes and events. Topic-related workshops help them hone their skills, encounters with representatives of the publishing industry open up insights into the world of professional book production, and practical experience allows them to extend their network.
From playwriting to staging
Dramatists, too, are supported by Pro Helvetia. Via partnerships with professional theatre practitioners, the Arts Council offers programmes enabling the realisation of a full theatre project from playwriting to staging.
Support for young literary translators
In order to foster young literary translators, Pro Helvetia collaborates with partners in the fields of training and practice both in Switzerland and abroad. An understanding of literature and the sharpening of linguistic skills alone do not make a successful literary translator. As in the case of writers, social and practical competences as well as a good knowledge of the literature and publishing scenes are equally needed for translators to gain a proper foothold in their profession.
Like most young cultural practitioners, emerging literary translators, having completed their training comprising theory and practice, reading and research, often find it hard to establish themselves in the professional arena. Pro Helvetia considers translation a key factor in national and international cultural exchange, and therefore aims to support young literary translators at the outset of their career, enabling them to acquire the requisite experience. To this end, the Swiss Arts Council launched a mentoring programme for up-and-coming literary translators in 2010.
Since then, the programme has allowed ten young translators to complete their first professional literary translation under the guidance of an experienced translator and have it published by a recognised publishing house. For many of them, this proved a landmark experience facilitating the pursuit of their career, not least because it gave rise to valuable encounters and helped them build a professional network.
In a series of testimonies accessible below, young translators and mentors who took part in the programme provide an account of their experience. They also reveal some of the needs, limitations and challenges regularly encountered in the world of professional literary translation.
Find out what makes translation so fascinating!
In collaboration with various partners, we support specific projects that allow young authors and translators to participate in mentoring and networking programmes. Besides projects in the fields of prose, poetry and playwriting, there are also special programmes on offer for young translators.
We currently work together with the following partners:
- Salon du livre et de la presse de Genève (Geneva Book Fair), «De l’écriture à la promotion», a networking project for young authors
- Eventi letterari Monte Verità, «Cenacolo», enabling participants to attend a festival together with a mentor
- Literarischer Monat, «Treibhaus», competition and series of events
- Transhelvetica, «Kopfkino», publications for a magazine on the art of travelling
- Programme international, «Babelsprech», young German-language poetry
- Prix du jeune Ecrivain, «Ateliers d’écriture de Muret»
- Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, «Autorenwerkstatt»
- Literaturhaus Zürich, Kellertheater Winterthur, «Teppich», workshop discussions
- «Stücklabor», promotional programme for young German-language playwrights (see our dossier)
- «Textes-en-scène»,promotional programme for young French-speaking Swiss playwrights (see our dossier)
- «Dramenprozessor», workshop for playwrights (see our dossier)
- «Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt Programm», programme for young literary translators
- «Mentoring for young translators», in collaboration with Swiss and foreign publishing houses
- «Internationales Buchfestival Millenáris», Budapest
- «Europäisches Festival des Debütromans», Kiel
- «Mentoring for young translators», in collaboration with Swiss and foreign publishing houses and the Translation House Looren