1 October 2018 Five Conrad Award nominees
We know the titles that will compete to win this year’s Conrad Award for the best literary debut of 2017. The jury selected Mikrotyki by Paweł Sołtys, Floryda by Grzegorz Bogdał, Po trochu by Weronika Gogola, Nieczułość by Martyna Bunda and Hajstry by Adam Robiński. The winner of this year’s Award will be announced on the 28th of October, during the final day of the Conrad Festival (22-28 October).
The Conrad Award is given to authors of books published and released in the previous year. The author of the best literary debut of 2017 will win a cash prize in the amount of PLN 30,000, an opportunity to go on a monthly residence stay in Krakow, and a statuette. Additionally, all the nominated books will be promoted both during the Conrad Festival and in Tygodnik Powszechny. The Conrad Award is a distinction that enables authors to receive promotional support after their debut, allowing them to develop their literary careers. The award is also a signal to publishers who are encouraged to take the plunge and support new authors.
The nominees were selected by the Award Jury: Prof. Michał Paweł Markowski (President), Urszula Chwalba, Prof. Inga Iwasiów, Dr Grzegorz Jankowicz, Prof. Krzysztof Koehler, Dr Zofia Król, Michał Nogaś and Dr Joanna Szulborska-Łukaszewicz (Secretary). This year, the rules of voting for the best debut have changed. For the first time in the history of the competition, the Jury will choose the winner of this year’s edition together with the Internet users voting on the festival website. The on-line vote will remain open until midnight on Saturday, the 27th of October. The award will be presented on the 28th of October during the official Gala concluding the 10th anniversary edition of the Festival.
Mikrotyki (Wydawnictwo Czarne) – a prose debut by Paweł Sołtys, a lyricist and musician known under his stage name – Pablopavo. Mikrotyki is a collection of short, mostly realistic stories that are hardly sensational, there are but a few corpses and almost no erotic scenes at all. They are like songs from our youth – they cannot be forgotten. Paweł Sołtys presents sentimental and melancholic journeys to the past, which seems to be smoothed out and devoid of any faults and defects. The title of the book – Mikrotyki – refers to a genre: stories which sometimes comprise just a short anecdote, and sometimes, a full-fledged story.
Krajobraz polskich dróg (Wydawnictwo Czarne) – while writing about Poland, Adam Robiński decided to deviate from the well-trodden trails and make his own path in search of landscape exoticism. His book, Hajstry, wildly differs from the average tourist description of our country, where everything about Poland can be summed as the sea, lakes, a belt of mountains and some of the most interesting cities in between. In his literary debut, the author wanders through the Polish Sahara, sails on the largest of the wild rivers, and discovers the Arctic an hour’s drive from Warsaw. He does it with the humility of the travellers from the days of old: on foot, by kayak or on skis. But most often, he simply stops to see more – traces of those who established the first roads and trails centuries ago, wild orchards in deserted villages, trees so old that they could be Tolkien’s ents.
Po trochu (Wydawnictwo Książkowe Klimaty) – a lively book about death. Here, death is familiar, as is typical in the countryside, since people keep vigil over the bodies of their deceased loved ones. It is also a story about growing up – it is not easy to be a girl, especially if you can cast curses. The debut book by Weronika Gogola presents stories from life, which are always told in bits, piece by piece – usually in short fragments. Simply because somebody has remembered something and the most beautiful stories are born from these memories. It is as you were sitting with a friend and start telling him about yourself, your childhood in the countryside, your Mom, and even more so about your Dad, uncles, aunts, cousins... Such moments are all about talking normally – without pompousness, pathos and shame – about the first fires you witnessed, about the losses that prepare you for the next deaths, about magic, about peeing while standing, about the countryside, about life, about the fact that Mom could be Sting, but she isn’t just because she doesn’t want to be. And just as in ordinary life, about the most important and the most mundane things of all, which everybody knows about – that is what Po trochu is all about.
Nieczułość (Wydawnictwo Literackie) – a mature debut by Martyna Bunda, who was an editor before she took up prose. Her skills and work as a reporter enabled her to master the language and write in a colourful, suggestive way, devoid of any unnecessary “bling” – descriptive rather than metaphorical. Her experience as an editor also gave her a distance to her own text and the awareness that a great story does not need fluff to be credible and poignant.
Floryda (Wydawnictwo Czarne) – the book debut of Grzegorz Bogdał, author of short stories and short film scripts, who drew the attention of the literary world in Poland with this short, yet noteworthy collection of texts. Five texts about people who are unique in their ordinariness and ordinary in their uniqueness. The characters created by Grzegorz Bogdał are so unique that they attract the reader’s attention and enable the author to build a web of his story on their uniqueness and peculiarities.
About the nominees:
Paweł Sołtys (born in 1978) – musician, songwriter. He released more than a dozen albums as Pablopavo and played nearly a thousand concerts. He studied Russian Studies, but he never graduated. His short stories were published in Lampa, Rita Baum, and Studium. His prose debut, Mikrotyki received the Marek Nowakowski Literary Award, the Gdynia Literary Award, brought him the title of NIKE Literary Award Finalist and was nominated for the Paszport Polityki Award, the Cyprian Kamil Norwid Prize and the Witold Gombrowicz Literary Award.
Adam Robiński (born in 1982) – journalist, debuted in Życie Warszawy, associated, among others, with Rzeczpospolita and National Geographic Polska, regular columnist of Tygodnik Powszechny. Finalist of the Barbara N. Łopieńska Prize for the best press interview. His debut, Hajstry, has won the Travel Book of the Year Prize of the 12th edition of the Travelery travel award and the Magellan Prize in the reportage book category, as well a nomination for the Literary Award of the Capital City of Warsaw and the Witold Gombrowicz Literary Award.
Weronika Gogola – born in 1988 in Nowy Sącz. She grew up in Olszyny, which she decided to feature in her prose debut. She works as a translator of the Slovak and Ukrainian languages. She graduated in Ukrainian Studies from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Po trochu is an expression of gratitude for all that her hometown have given her, while she consistently builds her own home.
Martyna Bunda – mother of two daughters. She graduated Social Policy at the University of Warsaw. Born on the International Women’s Day, in the International Women’s Year (according to the United Nations). She grew up in Kashubia. For her literary debut, Nieczułość, she received the Gryfia National Literary Award for a Female Author, as well as a nomination for the NIKE Literary Award and the Gdynia Literary Award in the Prose category. She has been nominated twice for the Grand Press award for her reports.
Grzegorz Bogdał (born in 1984) – he published short stories in Chimera and Twórczość and wrote scripts for short films. He lives in Krakow. His debut book Floryda was nominated for the Gdynia Literary Award, the Witold Gombrowicz Literary Award and the “Juliusz” Upper Silesian Literary Award.
The Conrad Award was presented for the first time in 2015. The ranks of previous laureates include Liliana Hermetz (who won the award in 2015 for Alicyjka), Żanna Słoniowska (who received the award in 2016 for Dom z witrażem) and Anna Cieplak (who won the award in 2017 for Ma być czysto.) The aim of the Conrad Award is to support writers in the period between the publication of their first and second book, to create new voices in Polish literature, as well as to interest the general public in the work of new authors. The City of Krakow is the founder and organiser of the Conrad Award. Krakow Festival Office, Tygodnik Powszechny Foundation and the Book Institute are the Award’s partners.