Conrad Festival Programme Announced!

Nearly 150 guests, approximately 100 meetings and a rich variety of accompanying event series: for the seventh time, guests from Poland and abroad will descend upon Krakow to take part in the Conrad Festival on October 19-25, 2015. This year’s slogan will be “Against the Current.” The light of the lighthouse, which the town hall at the City of Literature’s Main Market Square turns into each year, will shine soon.

It’s time to reveal the details of this year’s programme!

This year’s slogan means that we will explore the less-than-obvious areas of reality, laying down problematic matters, in addition with the help of a very particular and revolutionary tool – literature – that rarely has the opportunity to appear in the public square so intensely. We will experience the festival alongside writers, publishers, designers, artists, translators and, above all, readers who search for literary experiences without pause.

“As in previous years, we will focus on hidden places on the map of world literature, less commonly known languages and ideas that have not been fully embraced yet,” Michał Paweł Markowski, Artistic Director of the Conrad Festival, announces. “We will look for inspiration in surprising phenomena and in unusual artists.And we will do all of this in order to complicate the understanding of literature and the thinking process and to disturb the good mood of culture consumers.”

“Against the Current” is the direction towards diverse literary experiences. For this reason, there will be no shortage of outstanding guests from abroad. During the meeting “Russia’s Unwomanly Face,” we will look east with the help of Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian writer censored in her homeland. Meanwhile, thanks to György Spiró (the meeting titled “Messiahs”), we will look at our own Polish culture through the eyes of the Other. Certainly, it will be iconoclastic for many. The Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan will share her experiences of her participation as a fellow in the ICORN programme, a network of cities offering refuge to writers persecuted for political reasons (it was in Krakow that Ms. Erdoğan has found asylum). Writing against the current, despite conventions, also can be found in Robert Coover’s revolutionary practices. Mr. Coover is one of the most important contemporary post-modernists. He will convince us that “Post-Modernism Isn’t What You Think.” Finally, we will meet with Gonçalo M. Tavares, “the Portuguese Kafka” (in Poland, his novels Jerusalem, The Neighbourhood and Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique: Lenz Buchmann’s Position in the World have been published), which will allow us to draw from the darkest corners of existence. This year, we will also feature the already announced Jonathan Franzen, an American prose writer and essayist gifted with a sharp critical way of thinking. Mr. Franzen is the author of the moving novel Corrections and has received the National Book Award, Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His photo was featured on the cover of Time magazine. We are also impatiently waiting to meet with Hooman Majd, and Iranian-American writer inspired by his dual perspective in his texts about contemporary Iran. He will tell us about this during the meeting “A Translator of Cultures.”

Among the Polish writers who will be guests at this year’s festival, it is especially worth noting Wiesław Myśliwski. Along with the author of Ostatnie rozdanie (“The Last Deal”) and A Treatise on Shelling Beans, we will look for ways to “domesticate the world” and to maintain its appetite for experiencing it thanks to literature. The award-winning writer and reporter Hanna Krall, author of the famous book Shielding the Flame, needs no introduction. What is more, Mariusz Szczygieł and Wojciech Tochman (a winner and a finalist of the Nike Literary Award, respectively) will also take part in the meeting with Ms. Krall. Of course, you can find the profiles of the remaining guests – who include Inga Iwasiów, Zbigniew Libera, Adam Lipszyc, Tadeusz Sławek, Tomas Venclova, Ziemowit Szczerek and Wit Szostak – along with the events in which they will take part in the programme on our website (its new version will premiere soon!).

‘This year’s Festival is another opportunity to fall in love with literature again,’ says Izabela Helbin, Director of the Krakow Festival Office.‘We have ensured that the festival week abounds in diverse events and that it inspires and encourages participants to do their own searches, so we will meet writers from different corners of the world in Krakow.We are certain that, thanks to the Conrad Festival, Krakow will be the world’s most literary city in October.’

“Against the Current” also means once more, but as never before. We will meet famous writers who have already achieved much in the literary world, but we want to devote much attention to debuting artists and their first promising texts. Hence the idea for a new Conrad Award that will support and promote them, helping them take the next steps in their literary career. It will be advantageous not only to up-and-coming writers, who will find out too often what it means to “swim against the current” of various institutions, social conditions and life situations, but also to readers for whom the horizon of literary opportunities will become broader.

Other parts of the programme will be more familiar, such as the Reading Lessons with Grzegorz Jankowicz, Małgorzata Łukasiewicz, Anna Wasilewska, Agata Bielik-Robson, Kazimiera Szczuka and others. The festival will abound in meetings, workshops (including those for kids), vernissages and surprising combinations with the new media, the world of film, computer games and the blogosphere.There will also be the “Book Industries” series, industry meetings and literary walks. The festival’s unique atmosphere will be supplemented by the 19th International Book Fair in Krakow. We strongly encourage you to take part.

We will actively use social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,, encouraging readers to be close to the festival in this way as well.

This short preview cannot present everything that will take place at this year’s Conrad Festival.You can get a fuller picture of the festival only after studiously looking at the programme. However, we encourage you to think against the current also in this case and look for your own path through upcoming festival days. We will do everything to facilitate this. For this reason, there will be more information introducing each event (and unveiling more surprises) soon.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to conradfestival.pl and are waiting for you in Krakow!

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