A perfect hotel, Soviet radio and animated Schulz

“I have stayed in a thousand hotels. Perhaps, even in two thousands,” Cees Nooteboom enumerated. Does this sound surreal? Why not?! After all, surrealism is one themes important to the 5th Conrad Festival.

“Cees Nooteboom is one of the sure future Nobel Prize nominees. His books have been translated into over 40 languages. He has been travelling the world since he was 17 years old. He is immensely popular in Germany and the Netherlands. Perhaps, even more popular than in his home country, the Netherlands,” Alicja Oczko said while introducing Nooteboom’s literary achievements to the festival’s audiences yesterday. Several books from this author have been released in Poland by a Warsaw publishing house, W.A.B. Due to the way he functions, critics call the writer a nomad, but he prefers the word “Nooteboom” because it defines his existence best. “I even wanted to call my book Nooteboom’s Hotel because, after having stayed in several thousand hotels, I know exactly what a perfect Nooteboom place is. Eventually, the publisher insisted on Nomad’s Hotel,” said the Dutch writer.

The host of the meeting, Sławomir Paszkiet, asked the author how much time he has spent at home this year. “Allegedly, you have spent only 18 days in Amsterdam.” Nooteboom not only did not deny, but also talked about his yearly schedule. “I spent many months in Southern American countries. Then, I lived in the house of ten thousand books in Germany for almost three months. There is a swimming pool there and isolation from the world helps to work. I spend summers in Spain. Autumn, in turn, is the time of Festivals. I am here now, but I will be in Munich in a while. And then, I will try to hide again to find some space for writing.

Anne Applebaum was also talking about her search for a working place. The journalist and writer was a guest at Radio Kraków which has executed a radio drama based on her latest book Iron Curtain. “Radio was a very important medium of communist propaganda. The Soviets valued it more than the press,” the author said. While revealing the secrets connected with working on her book, she mentioned her search for source materials in Germany, Hungary and Poland. “My friends helped me a lot. The documents weren‘t hard to access. Perhaps, the situation in Hungary was the worst. The party’s archive belongs to a private collector now. So people who watch over it aren’t particularly friendly.” Applebaum said that we need to talk about history because our neighbours still know very little about us. Poles know hardly anything about the history of Hungarians, while Germans know very little of what was going on here after World War II ended.”

Since the beginning of the 5th Conrad Festival, the halls of Pałac pod Baranami witness strange events. Dressed-up people petting animal casts arouse curiosity. But the surrealist theme also includes Lekcja czytania z… [A Reading Lesson with] Angieszka Taborska and yesterday’s meeting with the Quay brothers. The artists, whose films are presented within the scope of the event, talked yesterday about their fascination with Bruno Schulz’ prose.

As expected, crowds showed up for a meeting with Åsa Larsson yesterday. The author of popular crime stories enjoys a great success in our country. Scandinavian crime fiction is very popular here and Larsson’s books are on bestsellers’ list all the time.

Annual lecture series is a tradition at Conrad Festival. Timothy D. Snyder, an outstanding American historian, told a story with an apocalyptic title Black Earth: Joseph Conrad and the Future of the Planet. At the same time, an American philosopher and art historian, W.J.T. Mitchell, ran a lecture at MOCAK.

Important guests of the second day of the festival also included Huszang Asadi, the author of a book on the hell of Iranian prison and the ambiguous relation that forms between the victim and the torturer, which has recently been released in Poland by the Czarne publishing house. Krzysztof Bartnicki and Jerzy Jarniewicz, in turn, discussed the hardships of a translator’s work with Magda Heydel.

Today at the Festival: at 10.30 a.m., Pinocchio within the Literackie Baranki Dzieciom series; at 12 p.m., the Typogryzmoł typography workshops for children. Also at 12 p.m., a meeting with Maciej Zaremba Bielawski entitled W Szwecji, czyli w Polsce [In Sweden, that is, in Poland]; while at 2 p.m., Morfinista [Morphine Addict] – a meeting with Szczepan Twardoch. The winner of the Goncourt’s List: Polish Choice Prize 2013 will be announced at 4 p.m. and a while later, there will be a meeting with last year’s winner, Joy Sorman. Also at 4 p.m., an outstanding American historian, Marci Shore, while tell what history teaches us. At 5 p.m., a meeting with Tymon Tymański and Rafał Księżyk, the authors of the book ADHD; at 5.30 p.m., a preview of PIOtr Kaliński’s exhibition of graphic designs; at 6 p.m., a meeting with Anne Applebaum at the International Cultural Centre; and at 6.30 p.m. a meeting with Tom McCarth. The second day of the festival will close with a meeting with Kiran Desai (at 8.30 p.m.), Zośka Papużanka and Szczepan Twardoch’s Nocne rozmowy [Night Conversations] at Pracownia Pod Baranami (at 10 p.m.) and the fourth meeting with the Quay brothers’ films at Kino Pod Baranami (at 9.30 p.m.).

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