Krakow and Québec City – UNESCO Cities of Literature are joining forces and opening up to literary exchange of experiences. On November this year, our city will be visited by Canadian writer Philippe Girard. In the meantime, Krakow-based author Aleksandra Zielińska, known to a broader audience for her novel Sorge, published this year under the auspices of the Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature – will travel to Québec.
The month-long residency programme run by Krakow and Québec is the first instance of literary collaboration of both these cities as part of the UNESCO programme. Québec – the capital of the Canadian province of the same name, sometimes referred to as Ville de Québec in French or Quebec City in English, is famous for its dynamic, lively literary scene, which seduces the artists who come there from near and far. Aleksandra Zielińska, who won the competition for a scholarship stay announced in July by Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature, will get a chance to explore the phenomenon of this city and take advantage of its creative atmosphere. She will spend one month in the Maison de la littérature. Zielińska wrote several novels, including Przypadek Alicji, Bura i szał, Sorge and a collection of short stories titled Kijanki i kretowiska. “Given its problematic scope, her prose is extremely consistent. Her latest release proves that this young, talented writer (born in 1989) is in fact a ‘monographic artist’ who always remains faithful to one subject – the crisis of women”, wrote Dariusz Nowacki for Gazeta Wyborcza. Aleksandra Zielińska won the A. Włodek Award. She has been nominated for the Conrad Award, the W. Gombrowicz Award and the Gdynia Award. She was a laureate of the Young Poland scholarship, creative scholarship of the City of Krakow and many others. She is one of the members of the literary team at Munk Studio.
The commission made up of experts from both Cities of Literature chose the representative of the literary community of Québec. Wisława Szymborska’s flat, vacated by Paszport Polityki Award laureate Małgorzata Rejmer, will be visited by Philippe Girard, author of more than a dozen comic books, five novels for children and numerous short stories. His works were appreciated not only in Canada, but also in Japan, France, and Serbia. One of his short stories – “Danger public” – became the foundation for Leif Tande’s comic book under the same title. Next year, the story will be adapted for the silver screen. During his stay in Krakow, Girard will work on American Roulette – his latest magical realism novel about a war veteran whose life takes a drastic turn for the worse as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder – he ends up on the street and becomes a beggar.
During their stay, the residents are obliged to write a short text inspired by the city. This year’s exchange is the first instalment of a programme addressed to writers, poets and translators from Krakow and Québec – Cities of Literature, belonging to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, aimed at giving creators and authors a chance to present their works to foreign audiences, fostering greater diversity in the literary community and facilitating establishing contacts with writers living and working in a partnering country.