Cold weather, long nights and Christmas holidays call for a good book . So whether for yourself or a friend, why not choose locally? Switzerland has some renown authors.
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (VO: French)
Joel Dicker is a Geneva author. In fact he was the celebrity chosen to turn on the Jet d’Eau for its 125 year anniversary celebration. This book is currently being made into a 10 part TV series on Amazon directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Da Vinci Code) and starring Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy).
Personally I thought The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was just an OK book so I will rely on the following review to summarize:
“A blocked and struggling author sets out to prove his mentor’s innocence, and as the narrative slides back and forth through time, the truth proves to be as elusive as the innocence of any of the characters. In the end, everyone is guilty — not in a Murder on the Orient Express kind of way — but in the dozens of small ways the denizens of any town can be complicit in wrongdoings. A compelling read!”
— Catherine Weller, Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, UT
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (VO: English)
Rumor has it that this British-born Australian author, married to an American, lives in Geneva. Terry Hayes is a screenplay writer by profession -his Dead Calm film prevents me from ocean sailing to this day. I am Pilgrim is his first novel.
I read this book last Christmas and couldn’t put it down. It’s a terrifying, post 9-11 spy thriller; and a small part of the story takes place in Geneva.
Excerpt: “Thinking about the dark history that clung to so much of Geneva’s hidden wealth, I walked to the rue de Rhone, turned right, stopped near the entrance to the Old Town, and made an encrypted call on my cell phone to a Greek island.”
Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (VO: German)
Night Train to Lisbon was recommended to me by a friend who at the time could relate to the feelings and philosophical pondering of the main character- a 57 year-old Bern teacher of ancient languages.
This is not a light read. Quoting from Good Reads, Night Train to Lisbon is ” a compelling exploration of consciousness, the possibility of truly understanding another person, and the ability of language to define our very selves.”
The film adaptation, starring Jeremy Irons, has excellent reviews. I hear that it amplifies the hints of a mystery thriller which the book never fully develops.
Genève et la tentative d’assassinat de la chancelière by Ariel Haemmerlé (VO: French)
I have not read this book yet since I tend to procrastinate reading books in French. However, I have met the author several times as a guide for our AIWC tours of the Jet d’Eau machinary room.
A friend recently told me that Genève et la tentative d’assassinat de la chancelière is not only a good murder novel, but Ariel takes his readers on a fantastic historical tour of the canton of Geneva with all its anecdotes that only a tour guide would know.
Nicolas Bouvier is a Geneva travel writer, editor and photographer who passed away nearly 20 years ago at 68. He graduated from my daughter’s school, College Calvin, so her young French teacher loved his work. They had to read Le Poisson Scorpion which my daughter informed me was the most boring book she ever read; all she remembers is Bouvier spending his time watching insects from his room.
I can’t help but be curious, though, as to his style after reading a short review by The Independent of The Japanese Chronicles, his most beautiful book:
“Part history, part notebook, the reports of this Swiss photographer who traveled in Japan for three decades are transporting, beguiling and often amusing: One shouldn’t dismiss Japanese music “until one has been subjected to it for at least six or seven hours.”
Do you have any modern-day Swiss authors you can recommend? I would love to expand my reading list.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/
Penny Forrest said:
Thank you! Thoroughly enjoyed your reviews and comments!!
Penny I hope you get some time this Christmas to curl up to a few good books while it’s snowing outside!
I am Pilgrim is one of my favorite thrillers. Hayes’ next book, the Year of the Locust, is coming out in September 2018.
I had heard Hayes was writing a new book. Too bad we have to wait so long! I guess it will be on next year’s Christmas list.
Thanks for the reviews! I’m writing my own romantic suspense set in Geneva, and one of the main characters is a detective, so I’m always on the lookout for mysteries and thrillers set in the city, or in Vaud.
I loved Joel Dicker’s book and its sequel! Also went back and read his first novel, Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères, which is entirely different, perhaps you’d enjoy that one more?
Denizb33, I appreciate your encouragement to try more of Joel Dicker’s books. I will search them out. I look forward to seeing your book come to fruition! Maybe next Christmas?
Patrick O'Beirne, spreadsheet auditor said:
“Genève et la tentative d’assassinat de la chancelière by Ariel Haemmerlé ”
I’ve just finished reading it over the holidays and what shines out from every page is Ariel’s love of his city and his wish to show us how it came to be the City of Peace, of Light. The crime thread is a novel addition, like a dessert after each of the main courses of history, the 14 day tours. The French was a bit of a challenge for me (niveau B2 ) but Google Translate and Larousse helped with the typically 3-4 words each page that were new to me. Some of the naughtier ones may take more research 😉
If you live in Geneva, or have at least a week there and are curious, I can hardly imagine a more informative guide.
Patrick, thank you for your review of Ariel’s book! I must admit I haven’t finished it due to the French-language challenge (also a B2). But I love the obscure facts that are thrown into the book about Geneva.
Ira Harris said:
American Racism effects the entire World! October 15, 1985 Swiss Exchange Student Eva Wiggli was killed in Durham NC when Racist relatives were trying to kill me doing road work because they didn’t want any Negroes on the Job! I begged crewleader to let me drive the Safety Attenuator Truck that protected Public, Crew and me if someone ran into rear of truck! Crewleader insisted I drive flatbed truck which offered no collision protection for public crew or me out on Interstate I-85 the most traveled Highway in area. I had many close calls all during work day and ran out of materials just after three pm. We filled the machine back up with materials! White guys and I thought we were thru for day because traffic was getting super heavy and curfew time to stop work on I-85 had pasted! Crewleader said we are going back to work one White Guy said traffic is too heavy someone might run into back of flatbed Ira’s driving! Crewleader said to White Guy what are you a n lover! We going back to work or I will start writing up crew! We don’t have anything to lose but that n word me! We weren’t even back working five minutes when the collision occurred! I remember the big truck missing me but car didn’t. I woke up in ambulance going to hospital. I learned that Eva Wiggli was killed by collision from Highway Patrol Men in Hospital. Neither my supervisor or his cousin crewleader came to hospital to check on me or called my Family to let them know I was in Hospital! At Preliminary hearing my supervisor got on witness stand and said I didn’t work there but stole flatbed truck. After that State Lawyer said he wouldn’t help me! A Lawyer read about me in newspapers and called me and said I’m going to help you those racists people you work with are blaming you for collision when they sent crew out on I-85 going ten mph during rush hour! It took years for me to be cleared because I’m a Negro! I thought surely since Eva Wiggli was White State would put up a Statue Memorial for Eva Wiggli but nothing was done! After State couldn’t blame me for collision they blamed Eva and her classmate! My supervisor and crewleader never faced consequences for any of their actions! Eva Wiggli paid ultimate price losing her life because of racism! Eva Wiggli and I faced consequences of being blamed for Racists decision of trying to kill me a Negro! I don’t know if Eva Wiggli Family ever knew truth about what happened to their Daughter? If Eva Wiggli Family is willing I want to write a book about Eva Wiggli who should have lived and still be living! My name is Ira Harris my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking for a Swiss Writer to help me tell Eva Wiggli story and how American Racism destroys people’s lives of all races! There is got to be a statue of Eva Wiggli put up somewhere in America! Thanks!