Alain Claude Sulzer

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Associate: Seren Adams


Alain Claude Sulzer was born in Basel in 1953. Alongside his translations from French into German, he has published eight books since 1983 (novels and stories). He won the highly acclaimed Prix Medicis Etranger and the Prix des Auditeurs de la Radio Suisse Romande for A PERFECT WAITER, which is translated into ten languages. His novel AUS DEN FUGEN was published to rave reviews and reached the top of the Swiss bestseller list. It was also nominated for the Schweizer Buchpreis 2012 and was published in English in 2014. POSTSKRIPTUM, a novel, was published in 2015 by Galiani in Germany, Sellerio Editore in Italy, and Editions Jacqueline Chambon in France, where it was longlisted for the Prix Femina 2016. 

Alain's new book, DIE JUGEND IST EIN FREMDES LAND, a memoir of his youth in Switzerland, was published in September 2017 by Kiepenheuer & Witsch. 


‘The best is his style. Alain Claude Sulzer – and in this he is a master – recounts in clean prose that’s honed, but not polished. His style is finely calibrated between objectivity and sarcasm. He doesn’t penetrate the depths, he doesn’t skim the surface. He takes us to the places in between…’ Basler Zeitung

'Neither a novel, nor an autobiography, but enchanting memories of 'Buckeliturnen‘ (some strange Swiss PE practice), soaped up dancers and the effects of porridge on the sexual drive. Luckily, after all, Alain Claude Sulzer didn’t become Pope, but a writer.’ Harald Schmidt

Praise for POSTSKRIPTUM (2015):

'A masterpiece.' Basler Zeitung

'A touching novel about an insidious disease and how far you are willing to go for your friends.' Taschenbuch-Magazin

'[A] virtuoso novel about a great movie star in the solitude of exile and the turmoil of the European catastrophe.' Buch Magazin

'A moving portrait of an artist.' Journal (Kassel)

Praise for A PERFECT WAITER (2008):

'This is an elegant, unsettling, small masterpiece that bears slow rereading and gratifyingly assumes the intelligence of the reader' Guardian

'Erotic tendresse and mittel-European manners go hand-in- hand in Alain Claude Sulzer's perfectly-formed novella' Independent


Publication DetailsNotes


"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." J.P. Hartley

DIE JUGEND IST EIN FREMDES LAND is Sulzer’s most intimate book. And yet, Switzerland of the 1950s and 60s emerges in these generous recollections in three dimensions and technicolour. An all-round success. Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

DIE JUGEND IST EIN FREMDES LAND follows memory traces, pictures of family life in Switzerland in the 1960s, a suburban small-town Switzerland that feels indeed like a foreign country. Sulzer’s descriptions are often ironic and with an advanced sense of the absurd, but also open, serious and moving. Often these memories are triggered by random everyday objects – a sofa, a television set, a memorable wallpaper. Sulzer thinks back on his first experiments on the typewriter and with alcohol, he recounts an attempted flight to Paris, an unexpected backstage encounter in the theatre, and other attempts to escape the stifling surroundings of his early years. But it’s also very much a book about the process of memory, the very act of transforming the lived past into stories.

Following Sulzer on his memory trail, one ends up without fail in the terrain of one’s own biography. Moving, highly entertaining and deeply sad – a mosaic of the past in which nostalgia and quiet dread lie close to each other.


Publication DetailsNotes


Only someone who loses everything becomes internally free.
Lionel Kupfer, an avid film star of the early 1930s, must realize during a stay in Switzerland that he is unwanted as a Jew in Germany. The contract for his next film will be dissolved. Eduard, his lover, whose dangerous proximity to the new rulers is becoming more and more obvious, brings the bad news to him. Lionel Kupfer is forced to emigrate.
Within a period of fifty years, we meet people of different origins, whose paths intersect, only to be torn apart again. But although they lose sight of each other, they do not forget each other.



A solo recital at the Berliner Philharmonie. Olsberg, a world-famous pianist, gets up in the middle of a piano sonata, leaves the concert hall without a word, never to return. This single act results in dramatic changes in the lives of various people present at this event - a Berlin socialite’s soiree in honour of Olsberg is cancelled, a betrayed wife returns home from the concert too early to preserve her ignorance, a godmother learns more about her god-daughter than she had bargained for, a member of the catering staff decides that the general chaos might offer the perfect opportunity to upgrade his life, a businessman discovers that the call girl meant to accompany him to the Philharmonie is actually somebody from his past...'Aus den Fugen' shows us how the impulsive actions of a single person can reverberate and cause life-altering consequences for those who least suspect it.



It is 1971. A seventeen year old boy is prompted by a picture of his father wearing an expensive Omega watch to wonder about the secrets his father kept before he committed suicide days after the boy's birth. Confronted with a wall of silence, the narrator decides to take matters into his own hands and to unearth his father’s past, together with the missing watch.



'In Alain Claude Sulzer's novels, the love can not be lived. In Private takes a passion to silence. ' Schweizer Illustrierte



The outwardly composed Swiss waiter Erneste is inwardly consumed by a deep, passionate love for the man he met thirty years ago. Sulzer's first novel to be translated into English moves between two time periods to tell the story of the doomed gay love affair.



'[a] novel based on a careful investigation of historical facts, which are referenced to the tension-free tone of a report, but also fictional charge. The result is a faction novelistic prose narrative of considerable sophistication. ' Sandra Kluwe, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung