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Publishing director Lucien Leitess (center) with the authors Tschingis Aitmatow (left) and Galsan Tschinag at the Lit.Cologne 2007 in Cologne

The Unionsverlag is established in 1975 Swiss publisher . Since its inception, it has published more than 280 authors from Europe, the Arab region, Asia and Africa. The Unionsverlag has been headed by Lucien Leitess since it was founded .


In the beginning, the Unionsverlag mainly published political non-fiction and short stories by authors of the Swiss working class . The first book to be published in 1975 under the title "I wish you the earthquake of the universe" was texts and poems by the communist Lisel Bruggmann, who had died two years earlier . At the beginning of the 1980s, the publisher found a continuous rhythm of editions. Soon he set himself the goal of publishing international fiction that had hardly been translated until now in German-speaking countries. He also looks for and discovers authors outside the usual literary regions, who often establish themselves worldwide after years.

The Union Publishing House had its first major economic success with Nagib Machfus , who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 . Translations from international literature became an integral part of the publisher's program. The translators enjoy a high priority. They are listed on the cover pages or a translator biography is included in the book in addition to the author's biography. Financial support from public or private institutions helps to cover the translation costs.

In the fall of 1990, the Unionsverlag began to publish its own series of paperback books . It has now grown to over 500 titles and offers a diverse selection of international literature. About half of the paperbacks are licensed editions of titles from other publishers.

International crime fiction has also had a place in the publisher's program since 2000 . The metro series (hardcover and paperbacks) was published by Thomas Wörtche until 2007 .

The Turkish Library program was launched in 2005 . In 20 volumes, which were published by the end of 2010, the development of Turkish literature from around 1900 to the present is shown.

The series of books for hand luggage publishes in- depth information and reading material on European and international travel destinations.


In Unionsverlag appear among many others, the following authors: Chingiz Aitmatov , Giulio Cisco , fazıl hüsnü dağlarca , Pablo de Santis , Assia Djebar , Mahmud Doulatabadi , Ferit Edgü , Memduh Şevket Esendal , Yaşar Kemal , Naguib Mahfouz , Claudia Piñeiro , Yuri Rytchëu , Murat Uyurkulak , Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil and Mo Yan .

In the metro series there are: Liza Cody , Garry Disher , Jean-Claude Izzo , Yasmina Khadra , Celil Oker , Leonardo Padura .


  • 2005: The Association of German-Language Translators of Literary and Scientific Works , VdÜ, awarded the publishing house and Leitess a "translator barge". The VdÜ appreciates the detailed presentation of translators in the preview catalogs and press releases of the publisher as well as on its website. In this way, literary translators are appropriately represented and made visible as authors . That should be a role model for all publishers. The prize: The barque was designed by the artist Susanne Rosin. It consists of a photo series of artistically alienated translator's desks in a folder, which at the same time forms the building instructions for a cardboard ship.
  • In 2015, the book market magazine selected Lucien Leitess as "Publisher of the Year"
  • In 2017 Leitess was awarded the Culture Prize of the Canton of Zurich .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Group photo from the 2005 award ceremony, with Leitess in the foreground, in Sovereign Bridge Builders. 60 years of the Association of Literary Translators VdÜ. Special issue language in the technical age , SpritZ. On behalf of the Association of German-Language Translators of Literary and Scientific Works - Federal Department of Translators of the VS in ver.di, Ed. Helga Pfetsch. Böhlau, Cologne 2014 ISBN 9783412222840 ISSN  0038-8475 , p. 238
  2. Lucien Leitess is Publisher of the Year 2015 . In: NZZ , December 2, 2015, p. 43
  3. Lucien Leitess excellent . Book market, February 23, 2017, accessed on February 23, 2017