SRF Leaderboard – The best books in April – Culture


The podium of the April leaderboard is firmly in Swiss hands. The current literary highlights of our jury in a countdown.

5. Monika Helfer: “Lionheart” (25 points)


Monika helper: «Lionheart». Hanser, 2022. 192 pages, approx. CHF 29.90.


After “Bagage” and “Vati”, Monika Helfer presents her third autobiographical novel about her family in Vorarlberg. In «Löwenherz» she writes about her brother Richard, an unconventional young man who only takes on responsibility when asked to do so. For example, when a childhood sweetheart suddenly leaves him a child whose nickname he only knows: Putzi.

“Lionheart” is a heartfelt portrait, a story about caring, guilt and family ties. Another highlight from Monika Helfer’s family chronology.

Richard’s story, told in a straightforward and intimate way by his sister, captivated me and touched me deeply. Although rather sad for me an absolute pleasure!»

4. Yasmina Reza: «Serge» (26 points)

Book cover: Painted image of a group of people eating


Yasmina Reza: «Serge». Translated by Frank Heibert and Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel. Hanser, 2022. 208 pages, approx. CHF 33.90.


With «Serge» Yasmina Reza has written an examination of the unspeakable. Jewish siblings from Paris visit Auschwitz because their grandmother’s family was murdered there. But this place of remembrance, which actually no longer exists because it has become a tourist attraction, is overshadowed by the trifles and bickering of the siblings.

Yasmina Reza tells an elegant and pointed story. For her, true remembrance does not take place in memorial sites, but in literature.

Yasmina Reza’s family and sibling novel explores the limits of our culture of remembrance with crystal-clear sharpness and sophistication.

3. Yael Inokai: “A simple intervention” (30 points)

Book cover with a painted picture of a servant in front of a house


Yael Inokai: «A simple intervention». Hanser, 2022. 192 pages, approx. CHF 33.90.


A hospital “corrects” mental abnormalities in people by means of brain surgery. In her novel, Yael Inokai creates a dystopian scenario reminiscent of a dark chapter in the history of psychiatry.

However, the “system hospital” can also be read as an experimental arrangement to reflect on our society, which is characterized by the pressure to standardize. And finally, the book also tells a love story in subtle, poetic language: it offers a way out of social constraints towards emancipation and freedom.

Yael Inokai uses language like a magnifying glass: as a means of knowledge. She tells precisely about a dark chapter in the history of psychiatry, precisely and tenderly about the love between two women.

2. Joachim B. Schmidt: “Tell” (39 points)

Book cover: Colorful, stylized apple


Joachim B. Schmidt: «Tell». Diogenes, 2022. 288 pages, 31 francs.


Joachim B. Schmidt builds a fast-paced crime novel from the original material about Wilhelm Tell that has been handed down. Tell is a hot-headed, rough-necked mountain farmer suffering from trauma. And the dainty, elitist bailiff Gessler makes mistakes because he grants his executor Harras too much decision-making authority.

Schmidt draws his figures as people – not as heroes – and thus takes the myth off its pedestal.

The way Joachim B. Schmidt tells us the Tell story in a new way is bold, surprising and entertaining.

1. Leta Semadeni: “Amur, great river” (44 points)

Book cover with blue patterned background


Leta Semadeni: «Amur, great river». Atlantis, 192 pages, 30 francs.


Leta Semadeni uses poetic language to create the image of a love affair like a mosaic: Olga, who grew up with her grandparents in a remote mountain village, falls in love with Radu, a nature filmmaker who is always on the go. The relationship between the two is characterized by intense moments together, but also by a lot of absence and longing in the time in between.

The chapters in the book are short snapshots from this relationship, which Leta Semadeni composed with powerful images and great sensitivity.

Semadeni uses luminous images to tell of a great love between closeness and distance, of arriving and saying goodbye, of being a stranger and being at home.

This is how the SRF leaderboard is created

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The SRF best list is determined every month by an expert jury. The jury consists of 55 book critics, librarians, booksellers, literary scholars and representatives of literary institutions.

Each jury member may nominate up to four titles for the SRF best list that were published no more than six months ago. Scoring works as follows:

  • 1st place: 7 points
  • 2nd place: 5 points
  • 3rd place: 3 points
  • 4th place: 1 point

The points awarded are added and result in the respective ranking. Each jury member is free to nominate fewer (or no) titles. As soon as a title has appeared three times on the SRF leaderboard, it is blocked to ensure a certain title circulation.

In order to ensure the greatest possible transparency, objectivity and impartiality in the voting process, no books may be nominated whose author is a member of the jury.

The jury members from A to Z

The newsletter of SRF Literatur

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The SRF literature newsletter contains weekly reading recommendations and portraits of Swiss writers. And of course there is also the current list of the best in the mailbox every month.

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