Discussions, debates, reading lessons, and the Conrad Award gala to honour the best debuting author, as well as a concert and, above all, an opportunity to meet prominent guests – writers and critics from Poland and abroad: this is the programme of the Conrad Festival’s ninth edition in a nutshell. The event will kick off on 23 October and it will last one week (till Sunday 29 October). This year’s watchword is “Unrest”.
“We want to talk about unrest in the modern world, about the unrest we can see in the movement of individuals and communities, about passionate emotions that need to be vented and anxieties about the uncertain future, which like a hundred years ago, in Conrad’s times, begins to cast a black shadow over us” – says the Artistic Director of the festival, Professor Michał Paweł Markowski. And he adds:“The feeling that, as Conrad once put it, the threat comes from everywhere, overcomes us more and more often, so our mission – of artists, intellectuals, teachers, students and journalists is to understand what is coming, but only few of us can grasp. Widely understood literature has the privilege to be a probe inserted into the future, trying to tame the future.”
There will be a chance to meet nearly a hundred eminent guests in Czeczotka Palace throughout the seven festival days.
Serge Bloch – illustrator of a new picture version of the Bible – will tell the festival audience about the way this innovative text-and-image form was developed to become one of this year’s literary revelations. French philosopher Marc Crépon will wonder if hope is possible in a world of hatred. Why do people dislike bookshops? – this question, sounding whimsically out of place at a literary festival, will be at the focus of a meeting with the Spanish writer Jorge Carrión. The audience will also have the chance to meet, among others, the French dramatist, essayist and novelist Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, the Swedish writer Agneta Pleijel,author of the novel A Fortune Foretold, who is well-known among regular Festival-goers, as well as the eminent American sociologist Arlie Russel Hochschild, whose book Strangers in Their Own Land has been ranked by The New York Times as one of the six works that help understand Trump’s victory. Krakow will also welcome, on her first visit, Siri Hustvedt, whose engagements will include giving a master’s lecture during the final-day Conrad Award gala. The invitation to Krakow was also accepted this year by – to name a few – Hugh Howey, American science fiction writer and author of the bestselling Silo series, Sacha Batthyany, author of the biographical novel A Crime in the Family: A World War II Secret Buried in Silence – and My Search for the Truth, Lukas Bärfuss – considered one of the most outstanding German-speaking prosaists and dramatists of his generation, and the Iranian writer Goli Taraghi, who will participate in a discussion with Mahmoud Hosseini Zad about Persian tales, as well as Jean-Ulrick Désert, Haitian visual and conceptual artist, whose works are already on display at the exhibition A New Region of the World in Krakow’s Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art.
Polish literature will also strongly accentuate its presence. The festival will coincide with the premiere of a new translation of one of the most famous works by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Polonised by Jacek Dukaj. This will serve as a pretext for discussion on the topicality of Conrad’s vision of evil. Apart from Dukaj, translators Magda Heydel and Maciej Świerkocki will participate.Monika Piątkowska, author of Bolesław Prus’s biography, will talk about the need to write biographies. During the debate Reading behind the Bars, Wojciech Brzoska, Sylwia Chutnik, Maria Dąbrowska and Mikołaj Grynberg will discuss the social function of literature, while Professor Michał Paweł Markowski will hold a Reading lesson for prisoners at a Detention Ward in Krakow.Magdalena Grzebałkowska with director Marcin Borchardt and Katarzyna Łęcka will talk about the Beksiński family, and Olga Tokarczuk will discuss her novel Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych adapted for the big screen by Agnieszka Holland. Other festival guests will include Dorota Masłowska –prosaist, dramatist, singer and columnist, Maciej Zaremba Bielawski – Polish-born Swedish journalist and reporter, Wojciech Orliński – author of the long-awaited biography Lem.Życie nie z tej ziemi, Michał Witkowski with his new novel Wymazane, Wioletta Grzegorzewska – prosaist and poet nominated for this year’s International Man Booker Prize, Klementyna Suchanow – editor and translator, expert on the works and life of Witold Gombrowicz, author of the book Gombrowicz. Ja, geniusz. The second day’s agenda of the festival includes a meeting with Krzysztof Globisz, Marta Ledwoń and Zuza Skolias entitled “Whalestan.” This name denotes a world created by playwright Mateusz Pakuła, director Eva Rysova and the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre actors and actresses, where man loses his power.
The Conrad Festival also includes numerous accompanying events: film review, children’s events, concerts, workshops and trade meetings. On the closing gala in the ICE Kraków Congress Centre on the last day of the festival, the winner of this year’s edition of the Conrad Award for the best beginner writer will also be revealed. As usual, the Book Fair in Krakow, considered one of the most important events in the bookselling industry in Poland, will take place parallel to the festival.
We now invite all those who will find themselves longing for more after the action-packed festival week to a Conrad after hours meeting (December 3) – our special guest will be Colson Whitehead, author of the novel The Underground Railroad. More details soon.