Switzerland was invited as the guest of honour at the 2021 Brussels Book Fair. The participation was first postponed, and then the fair was cancelled altogether due to the global health crisis. But that didn’t stop the partners from bringing Swiss literature in its whole richness to the Belgian public: The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, in cooperation with Brussels Book Fair and LIVRESUISSE, launched Allegra, a festival highlighting multilingual literature from Switzerland across Belgium.
For a fortnight, from 31 May to 11 June 2022, a delegation of some thirty authors, cartoonists and illustrators from all regions of Switzerland travelled through Belgium to give readings or performances and to participate in public and professional meetings.
The programme included Belgian-Swiss duos, who initiated dialogue between authors from Switzerland, Flanders and Wallonia, multilingual panels, a literary jukebox and a botanical walk devoted to discovering Brussels’ urban flora. The programme also featured literature for children and young adults, comic encounters, workshops, a graphic battle and a young artist exhibition.
Focusing on multilingualism, Allegra illuminated this major common ground between Switzerland and Belgium from manifold angles. Professional encounters enabled participants to jointly explore the issues and challenges of plurilingualism, while public readings honoured translated authors and translation. The programme was developed in close association with institutions from Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, making Allegra a celebration of books and literature beyond language barriers.