News | Luxembourg, 06/13/2022

Blue Sofa Celebrates Its Premiere in Luxembourg

Bertelsmann’s “Blue Sofa” literature format made its debut in Luxembourg. The premiere featured Jenny Erpenbeck, Daniel Wisser, and Samuel Hamen, three award-winning authors from Luxembourg, Austria and Germany. They treated the more than 120 guests in the auditorium of the Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg to an entertaining evening of literature.

Bertelsmann’s well-known literature format “The Blue Sofa” visited Luxembourg yesterday for the first time ever. Jenny Erpenbeck, Daniel Wisser and Samuel Hamen, three award-winning authors from Luxembourg, Austria and Germany, made the journey to the Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg for the occasion. The literary evening was hosted by Susanne Biedenkopf (ZDF), Michael Sahr (ZDF) and the Luxembourger literary critic Jérôme Jaminet (RTL). Among the more than 120 guests were two ministers from Luxembourg, the German ambassador and his wife, the Austrian ambassador, and several representatives of RTL Group’s top management. 

“Bertelsmann and Luxembourg share a long, trusting partnership,” said Karin Schlautmann, Head of Bertelsmann Corporate Communications, in her welcoming remarks. “This is the headquarters of our largest division, RTL Group, and this is where RTL creates television, radio, and digital offerings for Luxembourg - with a public-service programming mandate.” The Grand Duchy is also home to Bertelsmann’s international services company Majorel, he said. Incidentally, the Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg is based on Kirchberg in Luxembourg, just like RTL Group. Karin Schlautmann was pleased to announce to the sell-out audience in the auditorium of the National Library an entertaining literary evening in which “connections between various book worlds, language regions, and genres” would be established. For despite all the differences in style and genre, one trait the three featured authors shared was that they were able to keep the audience spellbound with excerpts from their works, as well as in conversation with the moderators. 

Jenny Erpenbeck, who according to Zurich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung is “one of the most powerful voices in contemporary German-language literature,”  tells the story of an odd couple in the borderland between love and lies, happiness and violence, hatred and hope, against the backdrop of the declining GDR and the upheaval after 1989 in her novel “Kairos” (Penguin Verlag). The stories of the Austrian author Daniel Wisser in “Die erfundene Frau” (Btb) are about lust and frustration in love, of which sometimes nothing more remains than a dead dog in a Louis Vuitton bag. With wit and great empathy, he describes how, in their attempts not to be a failure, his characters keep failing time and again. Meanwhile, in his book, published just a few days ago by Matthes & Seitz Berlin, Luxembourg author Samuel HamenIn portrays a creature not found in his homeland: jellyfish, the amazing “lungs of the seas.” For him, they are the most enigmatic and at the same time beguiling creatures of the animal kingdom. The author Julia Holbe, who was originally to complete the literary foursome that evening, unfortunately had to cancel her participation at short notice for personal reasons.

In more than two decades, the Blue Sofa organized by Bertelsmann, ZDF, Deutschlandradio Kultur and 3sat has become one of the most successful literary formats in the German-speaking world. More than 3,100 authors have taken a seat on the “authors’ steppingstone to fame” (“Der Spiegel”) and presented their books since the first Frankfurt Book Fair in 2000. For years, Bertelsmann has been involved in cultural activities in a variety of ways, both nationally and internationally. Its “Culture@Bertelsmann” activities include exhibitions, readings and concerts, “Das Blaue Sofa,” as well as its commitment to preserving Europe’s cultural heritage, as in the case of the Ricordi Archive in Milan, which houses original documents from 200 years of Italian opera history. As a company with a long cinematic history of its own, Bertelsmann is also advocating for the restoration, digitization, and screening of significant silent films.