17 October 2012 The fourth CONRAD special insert

This is the last part of the CONRAD special insert for Tygodnik Powszechny preceding the Conrad Festival which will start soon. The insert includes:

- Przemysław Czapliński on Dorota Masłowska

Czapliński reveals the phenomenon of Masłowska’s writing, in which she has diagnosed the Polish social and political reality in an utmost insightful manner and showed it in a distorting mirror of literary language. If this image seemed complicated in Wojna polsko-ruska pod flagą biało-czerwoną [White and Red aka Snow White and Russian Red], Paw królowej [Queen’s Peacock] and two plays, it incorporated contradictory impulses and mutually excluding social emotions, then in her latest novel, Kochanie zabiłam nasze koty [Darling, I Killed Our Cats], Masłowska soothes all conflicts and tensions. “Just as in her previous novels – says Czapliński – the author makes another attempt at her escape. But without the inconsistent polyphony, this escape appeared to be easier and much more appropriate.”

- Magdalena Pytlak on Georgi Gospodinov

Pytlak presents the biography and works of one of the most popular and outstanding Bulgarian writers of the middle-aged generation. Gospodinov, a poet, prose writer and literary scholar, according to postmodern poetics, does not ask about the borders of literary genres as much as he shifts them in order to tell the history of his own country, especially of the period after political transformation, within this unstable literary system. In this way, Gospodinov’s prose, enrooted in the Bulgarian region, appears to be exceptionally valid within the Polish environment because social mechanisms and their respective literary experiments are similar in both countries.

- Piotr Śliwiński on Piotr Sommer and Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki

Śliwiński looks for points of contact within the works of the two Polish poets, who have probably been the most often awarded ones over the past several years. They are both individualists who look for language which will enable them not only to describe their personal experience, but also collective experience of a community which tries to escape stereotypes and cultural clichés. The price they paid was high, but all in all, they have managed to avoid the trap of poetical opportunism. “You can say what you want everywhere, but it has hardly any value anywhere. On the background of this worthless freedom of speech, a poem constitutes an extraordinary centre of gravity, a valuable and a casual one.” Sommer and Dycki are poets who masterfully enhance this exceptionality of poetical Polish language.

- Grzegorz Jankowicz on Gerard Mannix Flynn

Mannix’s novel, Nothing to say and a play, James X, tell us about sexual violence in Irish schools and community homes run by the Church and catholic organizations. Flynn has proved that literature can successfully oppose institutional violence. He told the truth which contributed to stopping the repressive mechanism. Presently, as an independent councillor to the Dublin City Council, he fights for the execution of legal proceedings for all cases of sexual harassment involving clergymen and children. He will visit the Conrad Festival with his play, James X, which tells a story on one of the child-victims of cruel treatment.

- Marcin Żyła interviews Martin Pollack

The outstanding Austrian reporter, whose books describe Central and Eastern Europe, Galicia and the nations inhabiting this historical region, he also talks about his experience of living in a provincial town (where he has been living for many years now). He also discusses the European crisis, which he does not perceive as an economic breakdown. “We are focused on the economy. But hardly anyone mentions what Europe is supposed to be. Many years ago, when the myth of Central Europe was born, this was not an economic project. (...) I believe that we need to go back to the past, to talk about what happened. To build a European historical narrative. This is a real challenge.”

- Jan Balbierz on Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence
The Turkish Nobel Prize winner wrote a novel entitled The Museum of Innocence about Kemal’s dark love for his cousin Fuzun. Years later, Pamuk established a museum under the very same name in Istanbul where objects connected with literary narrative can be found. Jan Balbierz describes this unique place and encourages us to visit it immediately because many objects that are stored there, objects we remember from our childhood, will soon become extinct species.