8 November 2010 Conrad Festival has ended!

The Conrad Lighthouse on the City Hall Tower on the Main Market in Krakow went out last night just after the last meeting with Claude Lanzmann – this was a sign that the 2nd International Joseph Conrad Literature Festival had finished.

This pulsating light streak, visible within a radius of 8 km, is the hallmark of the great international holiday of literature that the young Krakow festival has become in just two years. This unique and exciting literary voyage lasting a few days took place this year under the slogan “Other worlds, other languages”. The festival was announced by Amos Oz who came to Wawel Hill on 20 October. Krakow was visited by nearly 100 writers, journalists, translators, documentary filmmakers, including many important names of great world literature, such as Rabih Allamedine, Aleš Debeljak, Sven Lindquist, Jean Hatzfeld, Dacia Maraini, László Krasznahorkai, Ashok Vajpeyi, Yuri Andrukhovych, Marjane Satrapi, Urvashi Butalia, Lisa Apignanesi, Jennifer Ashton, Benn Michaels, Mattias Göritz, Serhiy Żadan, Claude Lanzmann and last year's Nobel Prize winner – Herta Müller, as well as leading Polish artists, including: Mirosław Balka, Joanna Bator, Jacek Dukaj, Inga Iwasiów, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Kuryluk, Chris Lipa, Marian Pankowski, Tadeusz Slobodzianek, Piotr Sommer, Andrzej Sosnowski, Olga Stanisławska, Andrzej Stasiuk, Bozena Umińska-Keff.

The Festival was also visited by many important guests: the delegation of the literary festival Jaipur (exchange of experiences, joint promotion and visits of writers are planned), Lisa Apignanesi – Vice-President of the British PEN Club, Ali Bowden from Edinburgh City UNESCO Trust – the coordinator of the network of cities of literature, Helge Lunde from Icorn International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) with an invitation for Krakow to join the network of cities of literature including the protection of writers, who are endangered due to their opinions and works. Local and national media wrote about the Festival; the event also saw enthusiastic texts in “The Guardian”.

During the festival, over a dozen film shows were held with introductions by directors and writers, debates in Discussion Book Clubs; we continued “Reading lessons” with a great successful turnout, “Lessons of looking” also turned out to be a new idea: at the festival Herlinda Koebl's acclaimed photographs were presented, as well Anselm Kiefer's “Das Haar” from Grażyna Kulczyk's collection, and the theatrical event was the performance of the Foundation of the Art of Dialogue according to Tadeusz Słobodzianek's play “Our Class”, which has recently won the Nike Literature Prize. During the 6 days of the festival, over 50 events were held and over 8000 participants took part in them.

The phenomenon of this large-format event is also the invaluable participation of almost 50 institutional partners, among them the most important institutions for the promotion of culture and the most important actors of literary and publishing life in our city.

The Festival merged naturally with the Book Fair in Krakow, reminding us that both events have common aims: the promotion of literature, writers, as well as books. At the Fair we also ran the campaign “5 Reasons to be the City of Literature” together with “Gazeta Wyborcza”. We invite you to continue to participate in the campaign via our website.

With great satisfaction we would like to thank all the friends of the festival for their priceless contribution. We also thank the absorbed and attentive audience, which is the greatest treasure of the Conrad Festival, and we thank the writers who shared their works with us.

A participant of one of the important festival discussions about Edmond Jabès' “Book of Questions” – and an outstanding Polish translator – Ireneusz Kania, said: “The question creates – the answer kills. The question is life, the answer is death”. Those words are a great way to close this year's festival Book. We invite you to visit our website regularly and we also invite you to the columns of “Tygodnik Powszechny” where throughout the year we will refer to the meetings, discussions, debates, disputes, in order to maintain the discussion around the main motif of this year's festival, that is the diversity of voices and languages, without which attempts to understand are not possible without learning and true conversation.