BIBLIOTOPIA literary week-end around the world

From Friday 4th May to Sunday 6th May 2018

Listen to voices from elsewhere

Share views from beyond borders

Explore the imaginary

Journey the world with our writers:

Tahmima Anam, Tahar Ben Jelloun, György Dragomán,

Petina Gappah, Xiaolu Guo, Yasmina Khadra, Gazmend Kapllani,

Cécile Ladjali, Linda Lê, Katja Petrowskaja, Vladimir Vertlib…

and with the musicians

Noa and Maya Youssef.

The authors

Tahmima Anam

Tahmima Anam, born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1975, grew up in Paris, New York and Bangkok. She was educated at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University and now lives in Hackney east London. She is an anthropologist, a novelist and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. Her debut novel, A Golden Age, won the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and was translated into many languages. With The Good Muslim and The Bones of Grace, Tahmima Anam completed a trilogy exploring the issues of collective and individual identity, inspired by her own Western and Bangladeshi roots. In 2013, she was named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. In 2016, she was a judge for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

Tahar Ben Jelloun

Tahar Ben Jelloun, born in 1947 in Fez, studied and taught philosophy in Morocco. Having arrived in France in 1971, he published his first novel with the publisher Maurice Nadeau in 1973, followed by poems published with François Maspero. He has written for Le Monde since 1972, then for several European newspapers. Tahar Ben Jelloun is the author of around twenty novels, including The Sand Child (1985), The Sacred Night (1987,which won the Goncourt Prize), This Blinding Absence of Light (2001, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2004), Le mariage de plaisir (2016), as well as educational essays: Racism explained to my daughter (1998, United Nations Prize for Tolerance), Islam explained to children (and their parents) (2002) and Terrorism explained to our children (2015). His books are translated into more than forty languages. His last title, La punition (2018), looks at his experience of captivity in a Moroccan army penal camp. Since 2010, he alternates between writing and painting, and his paintings have been on display in several galleries in Paris, Morocco, Italy and Dubai.

György Dragomán

György Dragomán was born in Târgu Mureș/Marosvásárhely, Transylvania, in 1973 and moved to Hungary when he was fifteen. The White King was first published in its original Hungarian in 2005, it won prizes including the Jan Michalski Prize in 2011 and became an iconic bestseller. It is now published in over thirty languages and has been made into a highly acclaimed English-language film. His novel The Bonfire, published in Hungarian in 2015, has been translated into many languages and is awaiting its publication in French and English. György Dragomán works as a translator: among the works he has translated into Hungarian are short stories, essays and texts by James Joyce, I. B. Singer, Neil Jordan, Irvine Welsh and Ian McEwan. He lives in Budapest with his family.

Petina Gappah

Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from the universities of Cambridge, Graz and Zimbabwe. Previously an international trade lawyer in Geneva, she now works as a writer and lives in Berlin. Her debut collection, An Elegy for Easterly, won the Guardian First Book Award in 2009. Her debut novel, The Book of Memory, was published in 2015: it explored the recent social and political history of Zimbabwe through the story of an albino woman consigned to Chikurubi prison in Harare, convicted of murdering a white man, her adopted father. The News of Her Death, which features in a collection of stories, Rotten Row, was shortlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Short Story Award.

Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo was born in 1973 in a small fishing village in southern China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Her most recent book, Once Upon a Time in the East, won the Autobiography category of the 2017 National Book Critics’ Circle Award. In 2013, she was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. Xiaolu Guo has also directed several award-winning films including She, a Chinese, for which she was awarded the Golden Leopard in Locarno in 2009, and a documentary about London, Late at Night.

Gazmend Kapllani

Gazmend Kapllani, born in 1967 in Albania, is a writer, journalist, and scholar. He lived in Athens for over twenty years where he received his PhD in political science and history from Panteion University, exploring the image of Albanians in the Greek press and of Greeks in the Albanian press. Gazmend Kapllani wrote his first three novels in Greek, not his native language. His work centers on themes of migration, minorities, borders, totalitarianism, and how Balkan history has shaped public and private narratives and memories. Kapllani’s novels A Short Border Handbook, My Name is Europe and The Last Page have been translated into many languages. A campaigner for human rights and justice for minorities, he was a victim of intimidation and death threats from the Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn. Since 2012, he has been living in the US. Currently he teaches Creative Writing and European History at Emerson College in Boston.

Yasmina Khadra

Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul, born in 1955 in Algerian Sahara. A former Algerian army officer, he began writing under his wife’s name in order to escape military censorship, and revealed his true identity in 2001 after leaving the army and moving to France. Awarded many prizes, his works have been translated to over forty languages and touched millions of readers. The trilogy, The Swallows of Kabul (2002), The Attack (2005) and The Sirens of Bagdad (2006), devoted to recent world conflicts, has been hugely successful. Both The Swallows of Kabul and The Attack were shortlisted for the IMPAC Award. His other well-known books that appeared in English include Wolf Dreams (1999), Cousin K (2003), What the Day Owes the Night, (2008, Best book of LIRE, and prize France Televisions) and The Dictator’s Last Night (2015). In 2011, the Académie Française awarded him the Grand prix de Littérature Henri Gal, celebrating his whole body of work. Many of his works were adapted for film, theatre and as graphic novels.

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 Benedict (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.

Katja Petrowskaja

Katja Petrowskaja was born in Kiev in 1970, to a Russian-speaking family. She studied literature in Tartu, Estonia and then completed her PhD in Moscow and in Columbia University in New York, and in Stanford University in California. She has lived in Berlin since 1999 where she works as a journalist for various Russian and German media. She won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2013 for her bestselling first book Maybe Esther, written in German. In this book she researched the origins of her family, exploring the heart of now disappeared Mitteleuropa. Awarded many other European prizes, it was a Spiegel bestseller and has been translated into nineteen languages.

Vladimir Vertlib

Vladimir Vertlib, born in 1966 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), emigrated with his family to Israel in 1971 before settling in Austria in 1981. He now lives in Salzburg. Awarded the Adalbert von Chamisso Prize (prize for a German-language book written by a non-native speaker) and the Anton Wildgans Award, his works are translated into several languages. His first publication in France, L’étrange mémoire de Rosa Masur (Métailié, 2016), received an excellent critical and public reception. Lucia et l’âme russe appeared this spring 2018. A great storyteller, Vladimir Vertlib writes epic novels spanning 20th century European history, peopled with colourful characters and looking at our collective and individual identity.

Unfortenately Dubravka Ugrešić had to cancel her visit.

The musicians

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.

Maya Youssef’s Concert Syrian Dreams, Friday 4th May at 7.30 pm, see programme below.


Achinoam Nini (known also as Noa), Israeli born of Yemenite origin, was raised in the US and resides now in her native country. She is Israel’s leading international singer and songwriter, having shared the stage with superstars such as Sting, Pat Metheny, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli and many more. Together with her longstanding collaborator Gil Dor, she has released over fifteen albums which have sold millions the world over. She wrote lyrics to and recorded the hugely successful theme song for the Academy Award winning film La Vita e Bella. Noa sings in six languages, has collaborated with Symphony Orchestras around the world, and performed in the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Vatican and the White House. Beyond her passionate commitment to music, Noa dedicates much of her time to promoting peace and dialogue between Israel and Palestine and to various social issues, volunteering extensively for organisations in these fields. In particular she was Israel’s first Good Will Ambassador for FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2003.

Noa’s Concert Beyond Border, Sunday 5th May at 7.30 pm, see programme below. *SOLD OUT*

The complete program

BIBLIOTOPIA | Friday, 4th May-Inaugural evening Programme

BIBLIOTOPIA | Saturday, 5th May Programme

BIBLIOTOPIA | Sunday, 6th May Programme 

Rates and Reservations

Inaugural evening – Friday, 4th May

Single price of CHF 10.-

On reservation at

Saturday, 5th May

Day Pass CHF 20.- (full price) | CHF 10.- (retired, unemployed, AI and under 30) | free for children

Access to all Saturday events, entrance to the exhibition and bus shuttles from Apples Station are included in the Day Pass.

*Noa’s concert is sold out but everyone is welcome to the literary events of the day*

On reservation at

Sunday, 6th May

Day Pass CHF 20.- (full price) | CHF 10.- (retired, unemployed, AI and under 30) | free for children

On reservation at

Access to all Sunday events, entrance to the exhibition and bus shuttles from Apples Station are included in the Day Pass.

Transport network

During the Bibliotopia weekend, you can take a train from Morges or Bière to Apples, shuttle buses are available from the Apples train station to the Jan Michalski Foundation, according to the timetable below:

Friday, 4th May
Apples, station                          dp           5.30pm     
Montricher, Foundation          ar           5.45pm      
Montricher, Foundation       dp           10.10pm
Apples, station                        ar           10.25pm

Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May
Apples, station                          dp           9.30am      10.30am    11.30am
Montricher, Foundation          ar            9.45am      10.45am    11.45am
Montricher, Foundation       dp           4.10pm    6.10pm    10.10pm
Apples, station                        ar           4.25pm    6.25pm    10.25pm

Connection to Apples station is guaranteed.

Food & Drink

Our cafeteria, located in the central square of the foundation, will offer lunch and sweet snacks, by Yves Hohl, for sale throughout the Bibliotopia weekend.

— Friday 4th May 2 pm to 6.30 pm – Saturday 5th May 10 am to 9 pm – Sunday 6th May 10 am to 9 pm

Bookstore and signings

The pop-up bookshop of Bibliotopia, based in the Foundation’s Elemental hut, offers all the works of the invited authors, in French, English and different languages. The authors will also sign their books at the times indicated in the programme.

In collaboration with Librairie du Château, Rolle.

— Free admission, Friday 4th May 2 pm to 9.30 pm – Saturday 5th May 10 am to 7.30 pm – Sunday 6th May 10 am to 9 pm


Literature from all around the world can also be read in the Foundation’s library: travel through the multilingual collections of more than 60,000 books and discover our new children’s book section.

— Free admission, Friday 4th May 9 am to 6 pm – Saturday 5th May 9 am to 7.30 pm – Sunday 6th May 9 am to 6 pm

Exhibition Etel Adnan | La fulgurance du geste

Public coming to the Bibliotopia weekend will have free access to the exhibition: explore the languages of the Lebanese-American painter and writer Etel Adnan, who uses words, lines and colour to explore the beauty of the universe.

— Free entrance with the purchase of a Bibliotopia Day Pass,
Friday 4th May 2 pm to 6 pm – Saturday 5th May 9 am to 5.15 pm – Sunday 6th May 9 am to 6 pm

The areas of the Foundation intended for the public are completely accessible to people with disabilities or reduced mobility.