“That night […] as some of ‘our’ refugees were coming to the Austrian border, we heard that Germany was closing the border to Austria. This was the beginning of the end of Schengen, Europe and everything we had hoped for as young students studying European law. What have we achieved since that night? What has split the world into two camps of supporters and opponents? What triggered all that hate? And why did I close my heart again after it had been ripped open so badly?” —Angie Weinberger
“But what use is this concern? It is choking. It is debilitating. It feeds a bright futile flame that burns no-one but me. I hate to tell you folks, but I do not feel on the winning side of anything right now with all my precious concern. And I know you feel it too, or you wouldn’t be here. You feel that concern, you live with it, you know its crushing weight.” Clare O’Dea
“Sometimes we humans are compelled to create a context for ourselves so our passions can thrive, and one wonders if Feller’s business endeavours—exploring the relatively new world of lighting and electrical solutions—were his way of doing just that.” Adolf Feller: a man whose propensity for connectivity led him to build one of the world’s largest collection of postcards.
“Miedinger got to work. Following his brief, he designed a sans serif font entitled ‘Neue Haas Grotesk’. It worked. Understated, functional, compact and neutral, it was the essence of Swiss modernity.” Sixty years on, J.J. Marsh celebrates Helvetica font.
“Something extraordinary happens when the performer takes the stage. For a brief moment, they become one with the words and the sentiment infused into the letters, bringing their spirits out of the past and into the present.”
“I am supposed to be the custodian of my child’s development, yet linguistically, she will soon surpass me. With regards to understanding, fluency, and ability to assimilate, the student will become the teacher.” Lindsey Grant wrangles a toddler who’s learning about her world in several languages.
“I can’t imagine creating any other way. More eyes and hearts in what we’re making are always better.” We talk to Sean Platt, Sam Jordison, Joanna Penn and Nichola Smalley, who are making waves in different ways, with their imprints.
“Yet write he did. At some point in his thirties, cramps in his hands had made writing painful. He interpreted this as a psychosomatic rejection of the pen and turned instead to the pencil. This changed his output from wry and witty tales to wanderings through the landscape of the mind.” J.J. Marsh on beloved Swiss writer Robert Walser.
“There’s something interesting about a story that circles—however tightly, however loosely. This is the story that (like most others) is anchored from the start of its telling in a place and an action. It’s an action that is borne of friction: in the world, between characters, or internally.” Libby O’Loghlin on diving deep, and surfacing at the beginning.
“As much credit as I give the Von Trapp family and all their musical life-coaching, this notion, ‘Nothing comes from nothing’, was around long before Maria and the Captain were serenading each other on the subject.” Lindsey Grant on writing, and starting at the very beginning.
“Cowbells have a constancy, yet they are arrhythmic, a subtle protest against the Swiss clockwork of the cities. It’s a mindful cue to ‘think less in ordinary time’ of lockstep and paced life, of hours and minutes, appointments and regularities.” Caitlin Krause pens a dreamscape that brings us back to the beginnings of time—and ourselves.
In the first instalment of The Voyage Out, Susan Platt ventures into the magical realm of Mr. Pinocchio: a children’s toyshop born from the mind of a multilingual story-lover.
Novelist Lindsey Grant, one of the original forces behind NaNoWriMo, adds a personal note to the blurring of boundaries, as she prepares for the birth of her first child in a country that’s not her own.
In Explorations in a Parallel Cultural Universe, Berlin-based Chris Corbett digs down into the after-dark, dying art of book touring to promote his first novel.
Jo Furniss, member of our writerly pack, is leaving prints of her own all over Singapore, as she co-founds SWAGLit, Singapore’s newest litmag for writers.
The Woolf‘s very own Jill J. Marsh unearths treasure chests of writerly goings-on at FutureBook’s very recent Author Day in London.
Long-time Zürich resident, writer and entrepreneur Susan Platt pays her respects to a much-loved and soon-to-be-departed Zürich institution: Orell Füssli The Bookshop.
JJ Marsh ponders displacement, memory, and the emotional importance of place.
Switzerland-based novelist Louise Mangos relives long, hot summer days in the south of France … and discusses the benefits of being displaced at a writing retreat.
Historical fiction writer JD Smith on Tristan and Iseult, and the challenges and rewards of adapting myths and legends for the page;
Two Woolf readers talk about journeys of adaptation, growth and imagination, and the experience of having a foot in several cultural camps; and
The Woolf‘s resident scientist, Iida Ruishalme discusses whether her ideas of happiness have adapted to her life circumstances over time;
JJ Marsh gives an overview of those grey areas between borrowing and theft (and some words of wisdom for writers).
Chris Corbett’s take on Tao Lin, a writer who raids and re-uses his life.
What does success mean to a writer? Do any of us write—or pursue other creative endeavours—without some notion of our effort being recognized, rewarded, lauded? And what sort of outcomes ought we to lust after? Kristen Coros investigates.
Behind every great writer you’ll find … other writers. Kelly Jarosz provides seven tips for forming a successful critique group and why you should.
Iida Ruishalme explains how the space between languages is full of serendipity, ripe for a wordsmith’s shameless plundering.
by Johanna Sargeant Why is it that we love reading about exploitation? Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl and Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha sit stoically on my bookshelf next to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Richard Overy’s The Dictators. For most of us, delving into these worlds of both the victim and the perpetrator is like reading any good fiction: It is escapism, it is voyeuristic, it gives us...
Meredith Suter-Wadley gives an overview of the Zurich Writers Workshop, held in May at the Volkshaus in Zurich. Meredith attended the fiction workshop run by Anne Korkeakivi. The weekend kicked off with a Friday evening reading at Orell Füssli’s English Book Store in Zurich. Anne Korkeakivi read from her novel An Unexpected Guest, and Chantal Panozzo, the non-fiction instructor, read from her collection of essays, Swiss Life: 30...
Melinda Nadj Abonji, Adi Blum and Ulrike Ulrich are the initiators of a new writers-in-exile programme for Switzerland. The Woolf talked to Adi Blum, of the Swiss German PEN Centre to learn more.