Bertelsmann: and the National Library of Luxembourg present ‘The Blue Sofa’ for the first time in Luxembourg

Press release | Gütersloh/Luxembourg, 18/05/2022

Bertelsmann and the National Library of Luxembourg present “The Blue Sofa” for the first time in Luxembourg

  • Rabe, CEO of Bertelsmann: Decades of partnership with Luxembourg
  • The literary format makes an appearance at the National Library of Luxembourg from 7 p.m. on June 13, 2022 with four award-winning authors
  • Tickets available now

Gütersloh/Luxembourg, May 18, 2022 – The international media, service and education company Bertelsmann and the National Library of Luxembourg (BnL) are bringing the popular literary format “The Blue Sofa” to Luxembourg for the first time. Four award-winning authors from Luxembourg, Austria and Germany will be at the National Library for the premiere of the event on June 13, 2022: Julia Holbe, Samuel Hamen, Daniel Wisser and Jenny Erpenbeck. The conversations on the “Blue Sofa” will be moderated by Susanne Biedenkopf (ZDF), Michael Sahr (ZDF) and the Luxembourgish literary critic Jérôme Jaminet (RTL).

Thomas Rabe, Chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, who also heads RTL Group, underlines: “Bertelsmann and Luxembourg have a long-standing and trusted partnership. Not only is the Grand Duchy home to RTL Group, but we also have other companies based here, such as customer experience company Majorel. By bringing the ‘Blue Sofa’ here, we want to emphasize that Luxembourg is more than just a place of business for us. We see ourselves as part of the community and also want to be culturally involved here.”

In more than two decades, the “Blue Sofa” has become one of the most popular literary formats in German-speaking countries. In particular, the authors’ forum organized jointly by Bertelsmann, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and 3sat is closely associated with the major book fairs in Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig. To date, more than 3,100 authors have taken their places on the sofa to present their latest books.

Likewise, Julia Holbe, Samuel Hamen, Daniel Wisser and Jenny Erpenbeck will present their latest work at the National Library of Luxembourg (in German). In their novels and stories, they describe how people live in their respective countries, and what thoughts, aspirations, hopes, certainties, fears and mistakes occupy their minds.

In “Boy Meets Girl”, Julia Holbe, best-selling author and publisher from Luxembourg, describes small moments that change a lifetime. She captures the magical moments when doubts and fears turn into hope and something new begins. Samuel Hamen depicts creatures that in his homeland are only found in zoos, if at all: for him, jellyfish, the remarkable “sea lungs” that are the protagonists of his book “Quallen”, are the most enigmatic and at the same time most seductive creatures of the animal kingdom. Daniel Wisser’s stories in “Die erfundene Frau” (The Invented Woman) speak of the delights and frustrations of love, of which sometimes only a dead dog remains in a Louis Vuitton bag. With wit and humanity, he describes how his characters fail again and again in their attempts not to fail. In “Kaïros”, Jenny Erpenbeck“one of the most powerful voices in contemporary German-language literature” (NZZ) tells the story of an unlikely couple in the shadows between love and lies, happiness and violence, hatred and hope, all against a backdrop of decline of the German Democratic Republic in 1989.

For many years, Bertelsmann has been involved in various cultural initiatives in Germany and abroad. The Group’s “[email protected]” activities include exhibitions, readings and concerts, the “Blue Sofa” literary format, as well as a commitment to the preservation of European cultural heritage, as in the case of the Ricordi Archives in Milan, which house original documents from 200 years of Italian operatic history. As a company with a long history in the film industry, Bertelsmann also engages in the restoration, digitization and screening of significant silent films.

About the authors

Julia Holbe
Julia Holbe, born in 1969, is from Luxembourg. She lives in Frankfurt am Main and in Brittany. For twenty years she worked as an editor for international literature at S. Fischer Verlag. “Unsere glücklichen Tage” (Our happy days) is his first novel. Literary critic and host Christine Westermann on her latest book “Boy meet Girl”: “The old story between boy and girl, but so much better told. More surprising and light, easy and airy. … You can feel the joy of live inherent in this novel.”

Samuel Hamen
Samuel Hamen, born in Luxembourg City in 1988, is a writer and literary critic for Deutschlandfunk and ZEIT Online, among others, and president of the Luxembourg writers’ association A:LL. His first novel, “V wéi wreckt, wéi Vitess”, was published by Éditions Guy Binsfeld in 2018. More recently, Hamen received the Luxembourg Book Prize 2020 and a one-year grant from the Kunststiftung Baden art foundation -Württemberg. His volume “Quallen” (Medusa) was published on May 12, 2022.

Daniel Wisser
Daniel Wisser, born in Klagenfurt in 1971, writes prose, poetry and song lyrics. He now lives in Vienna. In 2018, Wisser received the Austrian Book Prize and the Johann Beer Prize for her novel “Königin der Berge” (Queen of the Mountains). “Wir bleiben noch” (We are not leaving yet) is the fifth novel by Daniel Wisser. Author Monika Helfer writes about her latest work “Die erfundene Frau” (The Invented Woman): “Daniel Wisser’s ‘Die erfundene Frau’ is quirky, mad and true in all its congestion. Daniel Wisser describes his couples in sentences short and with real warmth. You don’t forget them, sometimes they are in my bed with me.

Jenny Erpenbeck
Jenny Erpenbeck, born in East Berlin in 1967, made her debut in 1999 with the short story “Geschichte vom alten Kind” (Story of the Old Child). Many publications followed, including novels, short stories and plays. Her novel “Aller Tage Abend” (The Everyday Evening) received critical and public acclaim and won numerous awards, including the Joseph Breitbach Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award. Honors for “Gehen, ging, gegangen” (Go, Went, Gone) included the Thomas Mann Award. In 2017, Jenny Erpenbeck won the Premio Strega Europeo and was awarded the Ribbon Merit Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany. Literary critic Denis Scheck says of Erpenbeck’s latest book “Kairos”: “A moving novel about being completely exposed and vulnerable in love, and the good time in life.” (“Lesenswert”, ARD)

The event at a glance

The Luxembourg Blue Sofa
Monday, June 13, 2022, 7 p.m.
National Library of Luxembourg
37D, Avenue John F. Kennedy at L-1855 Luxembourg
Phone: +352 26559-226

Tickets available at:
Admission is free – registration is required

More information (in German)

About Bertelsmann
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in approximately 50 countries around the world. It includes entertainment group RTL Group, specialist book publisher Penguin Random House, music company BMG, service provider Arvato, Bertelsmann Printing Group, Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. The company has 145,000 employees and achieved sales of 18.7 billion euros in the 2021 financial year. Bertelsmann stands for creativity and entrepreneurship. This combination promotes first-class multimedia content and innovative service solutions that inspire customers around the world. Bertelsmann aspires to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.

About the blue sofa
The Blue Sofa is the forum for authors organized jointly by Bertelsmann, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and 3sat. In more than two decades, it has become an institution at the Frankfurt and Leipzig book fairs. Since the Leipzig Book Fair in 2000, more than 3,100 author talks have taken place on the Blue Sofa – on site and broadcast live or broadcast on TV and radio. In 2005 the Blue Sofa celebrated its premiere in Berlin and in 2011 the Frankfurt Open Books reading festival opened for the first time with a Blue Sofa author gala. To date, guests have included authors of all genres with their latest books, including Nobel Laureates Svetlana Alexievich, Mikhail Gorbachev, Günter Grass, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Herta Müller, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Orhan Pamuk, Joseph Stiglitz , Olga Tokarczuk, Mario Vargas Llosa and Mo Yan.

About the National Library of Luxembourg
The National Library of Luxembourg (Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg, BnL) is the country’s main academic, research and cultural heritage library. It collects, catalogs and stores all analogue and digital publications published in Luxembourg and all works published abroad concerning the Grand Duchy. As a university and research library, the BnL has the status of a specialized library: around three quarters of its printed collections come from other countries and cover different areas of knowledge. The BnL is much more than a place of learning and documentation. It also plays an important role in knowledge transfer by producing its own publications and providing a venue for cultural encounters, such as conferences, exhibitions and events on a wide range of topics.

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