the Etonnants Voyageurs festival is looking for a new lease of life to export

the Etonnants Voyageurs festival is looking for a new lease of life to export

Beneath the ramparts of Saint-Malo swept by a strong offshore wind, geopolitics is closely intertwined with literature. The 32e edition of the Etonnants Voyageurs festival was finally held in person from June 4 to 6, after being canceled for health reasons in 2020 and then offered to the public in a hybrid version, online, in 2021. white or graying hair, the public surveyed the book fair and waited a long time to access the many literary debates – the Ukrainian Andrei Kurkov sold out – or fifty films on display over three days. Two school days had been organized before the opening to the public.

This demonstration was also the first since the death, in January 2021, of Michel Le Bris, the founder of the festival in 1990, ex-militant of the extreme left, passionate about German romanticism and admirer of Robert Louis Stevenson. Very quickly, he had declined Etonnants Voyageurs internationally. First in Missoula, Montana (United States) dear to the poet Raymond Carver or the novelists James Crumley and Jim Harrison. Then in Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), in collaboration with the André-Malraux center, then directed by Francis Bueb, in Dublin (Ireland), but also in Brazzaville (Republic of Congo), Rabat (Morocco), Haifa (Israel) and even more assiduously in Bamako (Mali). From 2010, the adventure stopped, the context had become too ” complicated “, according to Emmanuel Braconnier, co-director of the festival with Mélani Le Bris, the founder’s daughter.

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In Port-au-Prince (Haiti) also relations have been particularly strong and the festival has been organized there four times since 2004, the earthquake of 2010 having forced its cancellation the day before the inauguration. Emmanuel Braconnier notes “the incredible contrast between the misery of this Caribbean country and its extraordinary artistic production”. Melani Le Bris adds: “Each international adventure results from a desire, from friendly encounters, it is always about projects built with authors from another country. » What his father had always wanted. But the two co-directors have to admit: “At the moment, after the pandemic, we have no plans. » Everything is therefore either open or to be rebuilt.

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“Each project obeys an indefinite period of gestation”, they add. The export of this festival, which has allowed French-speaking literature to become better known in all its diversity, will it continue? The Haitian novelist and poet Lyonel Trouillot, who co-chairs the Etonnants Voyageurs festival in Haiti with his colleague Dany Laferrière, hopes so. On condition that “the security situation of the country allows it”, he said pointing bluntly “the illegitimate political power in Port-au-Prince as responsible for the massive recourse to banditry”. For this author published in France by Actes Sud and present in Saint-Malo, “the principle of relaunching the festival in Haiti remains, but we must also rethink the projects after the death of Michel Le Bris”.

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