Lisa Burke talks to a group of writers who choose English to express themselves, and the importance of winning literature competitions for recognition.

Jérôme Jaminet set up #LiteraturLiwwererOnline - a place where writers can perform their work right now. This initiative showcases a new community of Luxembourgers choosing to write in English.

Meet the authors

Cosimo Suglia was born in Luxembourg to a second-generation Italian family. He is currently studying English Literature at the University of Luxembourg.

Cosimo was a finalist in the 2019 Prix Laurence, a national youth writing competition. His upcoming short-story ‘Beyond the Graveyard’ received honourable mention in the young voices contest organized by Black Fountain Press, Luxembourg's first and only specifically English-language publisher.

Fernando Martins da Mota is from a Portuguese family and is on the same English Literature course as Cosimo at the University of Luxembourg. He received the honourable mention in the Prix Laurence of 2019.

Maxime Weber is finishing his M.A. in Philosophy in Berlin. In 2016, he won first prize in the Prix Laurence. His piece entitled 'Panima' is his first short story in English and will be published in an anthology by Black Fountain Press later this year.

Jean Bürlesk describes himself as a storyteller. His debut short story collection The Pleasure of Drowning was awarded the Prix d’Encouragement de la Fondation Servais 2019 und published by Luna Press Publishing in March 2020.

Aside from writing, Jean is also an actor and tour guide - two professions entirely stopped due to coronavirus.

Literary Prizes in Luxembourg 
The main literary prizes in Luxembourg, according to Jean, are the Prix Batty Weber, awarded every three years for a writer's entire body of work, and the Prix Servais, awarded annually to the best book of the previous year.

The Prix Batty Weber was just awarded to an English-language writer for the first time: Pierre Joris, a Luxembourgish writer based in the US.

The Prix Servais has never been awarded to an English-language book, but the Fondation Servais occasionally gives out a Prix d'Encouragement for a best first unpublished manuscript, and that was won by Jean Bürlesk for the first time last year.

The most important literary competition, says Jean, is the Concours Littéraire National, with a different genre focus each year. Submissions are sent in under a pseudonym.

Last of the major prizes, the Lëtzebuerger Buchpräis is given annually in different categories at Luxembourg's biggest book fair, the Walfer Bicherdeeg, where RTL are present each year.

Other noteworthy competitions include the Prix Lawrence, reserved for young writers

All of these competitions consider work in Luxembourgish, German, French and English.

If you would like to buy Jean Bürlesk's book, The Pleasure of Drowning, you can do so here, or as an e-book here (use the code HAPPYLUNA at checkout for 50% off till the end of the month).

Perhaps now, in this time of 'lock-down', your creative writing juices can take shape! Don't forget that you can always write to us at RTL Today...

Get in touch

If you feel you have a story worth talking about, or want to be covered, email 
lisa_burke@rtltoday.lu or contenttoday@rtl.lu