Gertrud Leutenegger

Late Guests - Novel

(German title: Späte Gäste)
ca. 174 pages
Gertrud Leutenegger
Foto: Gertrud Leutenegger
© Peter Peitsch

Gertrud Leutenegger was born in 1948 in Schwyz, Switzerland. She studied directing at the Theatre and Acting Academy in Zurich.

After living for many years in the French-speaking and then the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, she now lives in Zurich.

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»We had a destiny, chasms, and this all-consuming zest for life. How rich we were.«


A village near the Italian border. Late in the evening the narrator has arrived there after receiving news of a death. Orion, with whom she shared many years of her life before she ran away with their child, has died.

She wants to spend the night before the funeral service in the inn at the edge of the forest, once a lordly villa. But she finds the inn deserted, the Sicilian landlord is out oft own, the housekeeper is back beyond the border, like every year for Carnival, where the villagers dress up as »beautiful and ugly people«. Even though she finds shelter in the unlocked garden room, where they sat together often in the past, the narrator falls into a state oscillating between vigil and sleep plagued by memories of Orion and images from her childhood. It’s not just scenes from the past that haunt her, towards morning masked figures appear who scare and intrigue her at the same time.

Emigrating and being banished, loss and recovery, grief and the flitting about during Carnival form a noctambulistic present in Gertrud Leutenegger’s novel.


»One is grateful to this book for everything about it that is so brilliantly different from anything else that can be found in literature.« Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»… as though everything could be seen anew, just a tiny bit removed from reality.« Ulrich Rüdenauer, Der Tagesspiegel

»Gertrud Leuteneggers slim but impressive novel is a book of the night. From dusk until the early hours of the morning it floats between dreams and memories, awakens the past of the deserted borderland to new life and safeguards the fate of its inhabitants in its poetry.« Eva Pfister, Deutschlandfunk

»Since her beginnings in the 1970s, Gertrud Leutenegger has developed animpressive mastery, weaving a shining tapestry of inseparable motifs and colours without the images appearing artificial or ostentatious.« Rainer Moritz, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

»Gertrud Leutenegger‘s characters may outwardly be caught in traditional roles – internally, however, they are free. With an allure also inherent in, for example, the poems by Ilma or Erika Burkart, she convinces readers of the female perspective on things time and time again.« Tina Uhlmann, Aargauer Zeitung

Other publications

Panischer Frühling/Panicked Spring (2014)

Sold to:

France (Zoé), Japan (Edition Hanjitsukan)