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Literary feast gets underway in Solothurn

Literature buffs will be spoilt for choice this weekend in Solothurn Keystone

Book lovers will be converging on the small baroque town of Solothurn over the next three days for the 28th writers' festival, which has 60 authors in attendance.

The event, which opened on Friday, is focusing on the social responsibility of literature and writers. Leading authors from around the world and from Switzerland’s four linguistic regions are expected to pull in the crowds.

A highlight this year is the appearance of South African writer J.M. Coetzee, the winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature, who will be presenting his work and contributing to discussions.

Other celebrated international authors who will be taking part in the more than 50 events being held in the northwestern Swiss town, include Jordanian writers Samiha Chrais, Iljas Farkuch, and Ibrahim Nasrallah.

French poets and critics Yves Bonnefoy and Gérard Macé will be paying homage to writer and linguist Jean Starobinski. Their countryman, the dramatist Valère Novarina, will also be entertaining literary fans with readings from his plays. Swiss author Urs Widmer is due to close the event on Sunday.

New talent

The writers’ festival, which was founded in 1978, is seen as a launching pad for new talent.

In the new Swiss writing category, 40 authors will be presenting their works.

Switzerland’s youngest ever author, 14-year-old Natalie Marrer, opened the event in her hometown with a reading from her first novel, “Die Traumkarten: die zwei Schwerter des Samurai” (The Dream Cards: the Samurai’s Two Swords).

The event also hailed five young up-and-coming Swiss stars – Nora Lipp, Cosima Castan, Beatrice Montedoro, Désirée Meier and Priscilla Schatzmann – the winners of the “Stories of the Future” young writers competition.

Owing to the renovation of the Landhaus building, where the festival normally takes place, this year literature buffs will have the chance to enjoy the numerous literary events – lectures, discussions and workshops – in other beautiful baroque settings, such as Solothurn’s old hospital and concert hall.

And despite the predominance of German, the other Swiss languages have not been forgotten – eleven writers from the country’s three other linguistic regions – where French, Italian and the Latin-based Romansh are spoken – will also be showcasing their latest works.

swissinfo with agencies

Founded in 1978, the 28th Solothurn writers’ festival will take place from May 26 to May 28.

Around 50 talks and readings will be held in different locations in the city.

Authors presenting their work include J.M. Coetzee, Samiha Chrais, Iljas Farkuch and Ibrahim Nasrallah, Jean Starobinski, Valère Novarina and Urs Widmer.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR