BIBLIOTOPIA literary week-end around the world | Friday, 4th May Programme

Friday, 4th May at 6.30pm *SOLD OUT*

Inaugural evening *SOLD OUT*


6.30 pm Cécile Ladjali and Linda Lê in conversation

Writing and Literature; Places of freedom

Moderation: Salomé Kiner

In French

7.30pm Maya Youssef in Concert

Syrian Dreams

With Barney Morse-Brown (cello) and Elizabeth Nott (percussion)

8.30pm Signing Apéritif

→ Auditorium

Rates and Reservations *SOLD OUT*

CHF 10.- | By reservation at

The authors

Cécile Ladjali

Cécile Ladjali, born in 1971 in Lausanne of an Iranian mother, was brought up in France by adoptive parents. A graduate in modern literature, her doctorate was on the androgynous figure in 19th century literature. She teaches French at a secondary school and at Sorbonne-Nouvelle University. A novelist, playwright, and essayist, Cécile Ladjali published Les souffleurs (Actes Sud, 2004), La Chapelle Ajax (2005), Louis et la jeune fille (2006), Shâb ou la nuit  (2013, prix du Roman Métis des Lycéens), Illettré (2015) and Bénédict (2018), where she explores themes of dual belongings, the quest for origins and the power of words. She also published Éloge de la transmission (Albin Michel, 2003), in collaboration with George Steiner, and Mauvaise langue (Seuil, 2007, prix Femina pour la Défense de la langue française). She directs the collection “Le préau” at Actes Sud, which explores new ways of transmitting and acquiring knowledge. 

Linda Lê

Born in 1963 in Vietnam, Linda Lê arrived in France in 1977, after the Vietnam War. The French language, learnt during her childhood in Saigon, became, if not her homeland, than a free space to explore being attached and being exiled. Her first books appeared when she was very young and were very well received. From 1993, Christian Bourgois became the publisher of her numerous novels, many of them translated and published to great acclaim, amongst them Calomnies (1993), Les dits d’un idiot (1995), Les trois Parques et Voix (1998), Lettre morte (1999), Personne (2003), In memoriam (2007), Cronos (2010, Wepler-Foundation La Poste Award), À l’enfant que je n’aurai pas (Nil, 2011, Renaudot-poche Prize), Lame de fond (2012, among the four finalists for the Goncourt Prize), Par ailleurs (exils) (2015, French Academy Louis Barthou Prize), Roman (2016). Her latest book, Héroïnes, (2017), explores the portraits of three women, who embody Vietnam in exile.


Maya Youssef

From Syria, speaker, humanist and virtuoso of the qanun disseminates peace through the healing power of music. One day, aged 9, on her way to the music institute where she was reluctantly studying the violin, the taxi driver was playing a recording of an instrument that blew her mind – it was the qanun. When she told him she was determined to learn it his reply shocked her, but kindled a flame: he told her girls did not play the qanun; it was a man’s instrument played only by men. He laughed at her when she told him she would learn to play it. Now, Damascus born Maya Youssef is hailed as “queen of the qanun”, the 78 stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither. She moved to London under the Arts Council’s “exceptional talent” scheme and has played at the Proms and alongside Damon Albarn. When the war started in Syria, writing music was “no longer a choice” and that was the birth of her highly acclaimed debut album Syrian Dreams (produced by the legendary Joe Boyd). For Maya the act of playing music is the opposite of death; it is a life and hope affirming act. For her, music is a healer and an antidote to what is happening not only in Syria, but in the whole world.

See also

BIBLIOTOPIA | Saturday, 5th May Programme

BIBLIOTOPIA | Sunday, 6th May Programme