20 September 2011

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass: Switzerland: complexities

One of the things that clouds the issue when you consider writers of Swiss crime fiction is whether you are talking about "born in Switzerland" or "living in Switzerland."

That is why for example both Friedrich Glauser and Paulus Hochgatterer (whom I listed last week as Austrian) are sometimes cited as Swiss.
Certainly Glauser wrote his Sergeant Studer mysteries in Swiss German. Bitter Lemon Press tells us that Glauser is often referred to as the Swiss Simenon.

So I had some fun looking for names of authors for this week's post. Apart from the two mentioned above I don't appear to have read any books by Swiss crime fiction authors, or rather, I haven't reviewed them on this blog. Indeed according to my database which is a bit older I don't even seem to have read any crime fiction books set in Switzerland.

Perhaps, I thought, they are all so law abiding there that authors just don't write crime fiction.
I have seen somewhere that Switzerland has the lowest crime statistics in the world.
There were just 84 homicides in Switzerland, for example, in 2009. more

But, it appears, crime fiction is alive and well in Switzerland. Indeed there is a biennial crime fiction festival called Mordstage, held this year in June at a number of regional venues such as Zurich and Bern.

I did manage to find a Practical Guide from Crime Time UK (pdf) which gives a brief overview of Swiss Crime Fiction and tells me that the best-selling Swiss writers include Martin Suter, Hansjörg Schneider, Milena Moser, and Petra Ivanov.

Apparently both crime fiction based on regions and themes is also popular:
    Inspired by Friedrich Glauser, the so-called ‘Regionalkrimi’ (crime fiction situated in and emphasising the characteristics of a specific region), is predominant. Most Swiss crime writers belong in this category. 
    Bern and its surroundings, the long-time ‘capital’ of Swiss crime fiction, is represented by the likes of Glauser and Dürrenmatt, as well as by Alexander Heimann, Werner Schmidli (all of them deceased) and (more recently) Sam Jaun, Paul Lascaux and Stefan Hänni. Zürich is notable for crime novels by Roger Graf, Stephan Pörtner, Sabina Altermatt, Mitra Devi, Stefan Naglis or Gerlinde Michel, who won the first Zurich-based crime fiction prize (see Prizes). Basel is represented by Hansjörg Schneider. 
    Crime fiction with a specific theme is also important. Such themes include stories set in the mountains (authors include Emil Zopfi, Urs Augstburger, Sabina Altermatt, and Martin Suter), food (Paul Lascaux), a specific problem like the exploitation of women (Petra Ivanov) or lately, the success of novels with a hospital setting, sometimes written by professionals with a medical background (Paul Wittwer, Nicole Bachmann, Gerlinde Michel).
Another Crime Time page lists many of the same authors.

Check what other participants in this week's Crime Fiction on a EuroPass participants have highlighted.

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