Swiss writer Alexandra Lavizzari: ‘Und Harry?’ a novel set in Wales

Alexandra Lavizzari

Und Harry? 

A seven-year-old witnesses how her father is shot. Startled by the shot itself - it is hunting season in the Ticino - as, by the ensuing silence, she runs into the garden of the holiday house, where he lies dead by the bushes, which he has just cut. In his hand, he holds a peculiar wooden horse, which she picks up instinctively and keeps this from the police. The murder remains unexplained, the trauma of her childhood remains with her. Long after she has grown up, she resumed her investigations from Basel. The wooden figure, as well as an old photograph, showing her father at a young age with a man unknown to her and bearing the inscription "With Harry, Pentyrch / Cardiff 1949", finally points to Wales. Is the key to the crime there? Who is Harry? Does he know something and where is he to be found?

Available at Bider und Tanner 

How did you get interested in writing? 

I started writing stories and little poems as soon as I learnt to write. My father would type them for me and keep them in a folder which grew from year to year and when I reached the age I could read Karl May books I knew that writing novels (and travelling) was going to be part of my life. But as things go… one goes to university, marries, has children etc. and everything does not quite turn out according to plan. Furthermore, because of my husband’s job as a diplomat, I lived in many different countries, far away from the German speaking literary hub, so I started seriously writing relatively late. But since then I have not stopped.

What are you working on currently

I finished a novel this spring, it is coming out this October and parts of it are set in South Wales. After each book I usually take my time to let ideas ripen. I will probably start a new book some time in early 2018. Luckily I never run out of ideas.

Why is your latest novel partly set in Wales? 

The Welsh custom "The Fari or Mari - Lywd" began to interest me about four years ago when I visited Cardiff Museum. I wanted to see paintings of Gwen John (about whom I also wrote a novel), the paintings were not shown on the day I visited, but a whole room was devoted to the strange custom 'Y Fari" with a short old film and a really very impressive horse skull as a show object. I immediately knew that I would at some time use this custom in one of my books. I was at the time writing a book about the Wassailing custom in Somerset, where I had been living for nine years, and another book project was waiting, therefore I could only begin my Wales novel last year. I don't have an 'official' link to Wales, but I love Wales since I started to visit and spent time in Wales as part of my research on Gwen John.

What do you want to transmit to your readers via your work?

This is a difficult question; when I write I don’t have my readers in mind, I don’t think about them but about crafting a solid story as I go along. I worry about the choice of words, about the structure of the novel, the balance and sometimes about the credibility of my characters. After the novel is completed, of course, I think about my readers and wonder if they will like it and find it interesting, but this is then not so much my problem anymore. I don’t belong to the category of writers who have a definite genre – or brand, one would say today – in order to please readers who then will exactly know what to expect with every new book I publish. On the contrary: with each book I want to try out something new, to challenge myself with a new difficulty, because there is nothing I hate more than repetition and routine writing; in the end routine leads to bland variations and I think I would be bored from page ten onwards if I recognized that I was writing something I have already done before. In this sense I can say that I want to surprise my readers with something new and hopefully interesting and entertaining.

My main themes vary from historical scenes like in my last book, ‘Vesals Vermächtnis (Vesalius’ legacy)’ where I put the development of modern anatomy in the 16th century at the center of my protagonist’s journey through Italy and Switzerland, or else family issues like in the book ‘Und Harry?’ which is coming out now and also contains an element of mystery and crime.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

It varies; sometimes I have a theme in my head which takes years to emerge, and other times something catches my fancy which immediately sparks a story, it can be a stranger I see in the bus, a sentence I hear, or, very often, a new place I discover to which I feel spontaneously connected. The real inspiration though develops through my working routine. When I start a book I sit down and write every morning, even if the sun shines outside and I would prefer to go for a walk. I don’t go out until I am happy with some progress in my story. Interrupting this daily work schedule also interrupts the flow and inspiration, therefore I try to stick to it as best as I can.

Alexandra Lavizzari was talking to Ruth Thomas-Lehmann, Honorary Consul of Switzerland for Wales

Other titles by Alexandra Lavizzari

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Swiss Ambassador’s Award Concert 2017

CARDIFF  18 October 2017 7.45pm 

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff  Dora Stoutzker Hall

Tickets available NOW from the RWCMD Click here 

This year’s award goes to 23-year-old Swiss cellist Christoph Croisé, whose virtuosity delights audiences and critics alike and places him amongst the “stars of tomorrow”. He will make his London debut with the Swiss Ambassador’s Award Concert at Wigmore Hall on 17 October 2017, and tour in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Christoph Croisé began playing the cello at the age of seven and currently studies with W. E. Schmidt at Berlin University of Arts. He made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall when he was seventeen, and performs at renowned concert halls such as the Tonhalle Zurich and Vienna Konzerthaus. As a soloist he appears with conductors such as L. Gendre and K. Griffiths with, among others, the Skyline Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt. Christoph has won several first prizes in international competitions including a Gold Medal with Honours at the First Berlin International Music Competition in April 2017. His debut album with Oxana Shevchenko was released in 2015 on Quartz Classics. He plays a Goffriller violoncello made in Venice in 1712. He will be accompanied by the Russian-born pianist Alexander Panfilov, who debuted with a solo recital at the Moscow Philharmonie in 2009. Now based in the UK, Panfilov regularly performs at the world's prestigious concert halls and is a winner of first prizes in numerous International Piano Competitions. The Swiss Ambassador’s Award Concert is an annual showcase of talented musicians with a classical and contemporary repertoire.

 

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Swiss in Wales Christmas Events 2017

SOUTH WALES

SWANSEA

1st Advent social event for the family

Sunday 3 Dec 2017 (1st Advent) at 2pm till ca 5pm 

Ty Tawe Welsh Centre, Christina Street, Swansea        SA1 4EW

Contact Ruth

Like last year, please bring something sweet or savoury for our 1st Advent buffet table.

Soft drinks wine and beer are available to purchase from the bar in Ty Tawe.

On the day, our treasurer Rolf will ask for a small contribution per family to help us pay for the hire costs of the Centre.

Father Christmas (Samichlaus) will make an appearance and parents of children are asked to bring a small wrapped present for the Samichlaus bag.  

CARDIFF

Samichlaus Raclette chez Mosers  

Friday 8 Oct 2017 7pm  

To book contact Therese Jost-Moser 

The Moser family have over the last couple of years had an open house for the Swiss in Cardiff and nearby to celebrate Samichlaus day with a Raclette.

Request to all guests: bring their own Raclette cheese (Emmi Raclette is available at Waitrose) if you want, some sausages to grill, own drink, as well as something for the sweet table to share. The Mosers provide hospitality, the table setting (Raclette ovens)  potatoes and coffee.

NORTH WALES

BANGOR

Cheese melt and Samichlaus

Saturday 9 Dec 2017  1pm - 4pm 

Penrallt Church, Holyhead Rd, Upper Bangor LL57 2EU

Book by 29 Oct 2017 or asap contact  eiretrix [at] hotmail [dot] com">Beatrice

As usual, bring everything you eat, drink and all cheese melting equipment with you on the day, and possibly a starter/salad or dessert to share.

If anybody would like to volunteer as father xmas,that would be fab but it would mean bringing a present for your child, labelled, with you for Samichlaus to hand out.

There will also be a little swiss-themed raffle, with prizes specially imported from Switzerland, this year-to raise the funds to pay for the hall next year again!

I hope to see you all on the day but could you please let me know by the 29th October whether, and how many, will be able to make it? Thanks!

 

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Celebrate the Swiss National Day in Pembrokeshire

For the last 10 years Beat and Elisabeth Wehren have opened their lovely garden in Little Newcastle in Pembrokeshire for the Swiss, their friends and anyone else who wishes to celebrate the Swiss National day.

DATE

TIME

FURTHER DETAILS

CONTACT

1 August 2017

From 2pm

Open this flyer: 1st August 2017

bwehren [at] btinternet [dot] com">Beat Wehren 

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Article 50 – information for Swiss nationals living in the UK

Article 50 – information for Swiss nationals living in the UK


29.03.2017
The British government has triggered Article 50 and the two-year period of negotiations with the European Union has commenced.

The FDFA has updated the list of Frequently Asked Questions which covers many of the queries the Embassy has received so far, including around applications for British residency. The FDFA will update this document regularly and asks Swiss citizens to keep checking back if their question is not answered and to keep in mind that the Embassy and the FDFA are unable to give detailed advice on individual cases. The document is available in English, German, French and Italian.
In her Lancaster House speech on 17 January 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated her wish to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK at an early stage in the negotiations, subject to a reciprocal deal for UK citizens.

The Embassy will continue to update the Swiss community in the UK through the process if there are any developments that could affect their status.

Read More

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CSA Elections 2017

Election of CSA candidates 

The Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) is the representative body for Swiss people living in other countries. It represents and defends the interests of all Swiss expats in political circles within Switzerland.

The CSA therefore plays a key role in protecting the interests of the Swiss Abroad. The delegates serving on the CSA are elected every four years. 2017 is an election year. Delegates need to be re-elected for the period 2017–2021.

What is the Council for the Swiss abroad? 

Use your vote and elect your UK candidate/s 

Vote for your candidates!

Your UK candidates are listed here

There is no candidate from Wales who we could promote. However, it is good to see that there are several candidates from outside London this time. 

The voting slip is available to download for printing via this link

WHO Can vote?

Only persons living in the UK and registered at the Embassy can vote. 

Note that copies/printouts of this Voting Slip are acceptable, as long as they are completed and signed by hand! The voter’s name on the voting slips should be the same as the registration name at the Embassy and consequently the same as on the Swiss Review address.

Voting guidelines here

Voting slips need to be received no later than Friday 28th April 2017 by post to:
The Federation of Swiss Societies in the UK (FOSSUK)
16–18 Montagu Place
London W1H 2BQ

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Apres Ski Party in Cardiff

Apres Ski Party Cardiff

20/ 05/in  2017

Snowsport Wales is organising a Apres Ski Party to raise funds for Snowsport Wales. 

Details will follow nearer the date. 

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Swiss Ladies Lunch in Swansea

4 March 2017

1pm / 1.15pm 

BrewStone Restaurant and Bar, Uplands

33 Uplands Cres, Uplands, Swansea, SA2 0MP

Anyone wishing to come along please contact Ruth by Thursday 2 March Thanks

 

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WNO presents Swiss composer

WNO presents Le Vin herbé

by Swiss composer Frank Martin

Tuesday 4 April 7.15pm

Venue Cymru, Llandudno

Booking see here

‘sublimely sung... a vividly poignant marriage of music and theatre’

The Independent

more...


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Swiss-Welsh Evening with Alphorn and Swiss themed Dinner

Alphorn Concert 

and  Welsh-Swiss themed Dinner

08/04/2017

7pm

£20

The concert will take place at The Outbuildings, Bodowyr Farm, Llangaffo, Anglesey, LL60 6NH North Wales

This will be probably Anglesey’s first ever Alphorn concert. Frances Jones of 'Amazing Alphorn' will be accompanied by Martin Jones on the piano to provide a magical evening of great food and music. Frances and Martin will entertain the audience with a varied programme of both traditional Swiss melodies and favourite classical music pieces.

Booking is essential and early booking is advised. Booking and directions here   

Phone: 01248 430132
Email:info [at] theoutbuildings [dot] co [dot] uk

Proceeds will benefit the Wales National Eisteddfodd which is held in Anglesey from 4th Aug-12th Aug. 2017


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