28 September 2016 An intense week with literature – announcing the programme of the Conrad Festival

Intensity is an attitude towards the world and many of its aspects, including literature, politics and religion. It has multiple dimensions, such as individual and collective one, and it can be understood as a private experience, as well as one of the aspects of the creative process.

The reception of art can also be intense, as may be our participation in a discussion about literature. All of these meanings will be reflected in the programme of the Conrad Festival, which we are announcing today. The festival will take place in Krakow from the 24th to the 30th of October. Soon our readers will be able to participate in fascinating meetings with writers, discussions, reading lessons, film screenings, exhibitions and many other events.

The centre of this year’s Conrad Festival will be located in a new venue – all lovers of literature are invited to the meetings, held at the Czeczotka House at the corner of Wiślna and Św. Anny streets.


The main theme of the festival is, however, not all! The subsequent days of the Festival will have their own sub-themes: languages, beliefs and disbeliefs, emotions, landscapes, tensions, senses and maps. All of them show us the variety of ways in which we can understand the idea of intensity.

Languages, the theme of the first day, brings our attention to the ability to express ourselves and the world. It is the uncertainty of the finality of our language and the accompanying image of the world which encourages us to listen what others have to say and confront our imaginations with them. On the first day of the festival, the members of the legendary literary group OuLiPo: Marcel Bénabeu, Frédéric Forte and Ian Monk will discuss their attitudes towards language. Monday will end to the sound of a concert featuring Andrzej Stasiuk and Mikołaj Trzaska.

The second day of the festival will be devoted to Beliefs-disbeliefs, analysed primarily in their social context. Belief as a factor conducive to creating an imaginary community, may strongly influence an individual and entire societies alike. Michel Faber, a Dutch-Australian-Scottish writer and author of Strange New Things,Ida Linde author of If I Forget You, I Will Become Someone Else and En kärleksförklaring, as well as the outstanding Polish culture scholars Andrzej Leder and Grzegorz Niziołek will join us on the second day.

The third day will be devoted to Emotions. The Peszek family, Jan, Maria and Błażej, will tell us, how to draw upon them and create art. We will also have an opportunity to meet Colm Tóibín, one of the most outstanding contemporary Irish writers, included on the list of 300 most important British intellectuals, published in 2011 by The Observer. The author will tell us about the difficult emotions, which permeate to his literature and shape it.

The landscape is not only a specific place, but also our imagination – including political and ideological one, a memory and the feelings connected with it. The fourth day of the Festival will be devoted to Landscapes. Our special guest, Géza Röhrig, who played the lead role in the Academy Award-winning Son of Saul, will tell us about the place which shaped his identity.

Intensity without Tensions would simply be impossible, which is why they will become the theme of the fifth Festival day. In every lively discussion, one has to take into consideration that they will appear sooner or later. On Friday, we will take a closer look at the lines of conflict, borders and the hotspots of our current reality. Among the most important guests of the day we are going to see Samar Yazbek, a Syrian writer and journalist, author of a moving documentary about the war in Syria titled The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria.

The Saturday with Conrad Festival will be especially exciting! Eleanor Catton, Michael Cunningham and Richard Flanagan will join the events of the day devoted to Senses. Flanagan, who received the Booker Prize in 2014 for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Catton, Booker Prize laureate from 2013 for The Luminaries and Michael Cunningham, a best-selling American writer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours will discuss their experiences with sensuality and what aspects of it can be found in prose. In the evening, Kino Pod Baranami will present the Son of Saul, directed by László Nemes. The screening is a part of the film programming at the festival.

Maps will be the theme of Sunday, the day of awards and prizes. We are going to witness the Polish edition of the Goncourt Literary Prize titled “The Goncourt List: the Polish Selection”, under honorary patronage of the Goncourt Academy. The jury is made up of students of Romance studies, representing ten Polish universities. The winner of last year's edition was Alain Mabanckou, who will participate in the Sunday meeting. However, the emotions will be the strongest in the evening, when the winners of the Conrad Award – the first Polish award for literary debut – will be announced. The poll, where people can vote on this year’s debuts is already available. Geza Röhrig will take part in the award ceremony. You can cast your vote here.

This year’s programme of the Festival asks you to take a look on the issue of intensity from multiple perspectives, not only in the framework of literature, but also film, music, art and philosophy. However, first at foremost, it is an opportunity for personal search for intensity. We – the City of Krakow, Krakow Festival Office and the Tygodnik Powszechny Foundation – the organisers of the Conrad Festival, encourage you to learn more about the events and participate in this search during the last week of October in Krakow!