27 May 2013 We know the first guests of this year’s edition of the Conrad Festival!

Åsa Larsson – one of the most popular and most translated Swedish authors of crime novels; Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun – winner of the Prix Goncourt, among others; Agnieszka Taborska – writer, specialist in Romance studies; W.J.T. Mitchell – one of the most important figures of American humanities at present; and the Brothers Quay – outstanding creators of film animations, directors, and film set designers – these are the first confirmed guests of the 5th edition of the Conrad Festival. Come and join us in Krakow between the 21st and the 27th of October.

“The main theme of this year’s edition is literature as a medium – as a mediator between the world and us (sometimes between different worlds); as a means through which we express our views, desires, and feelings; as a tool thanks to which stories may circulate in culture, influencing individuals and society, changing their way of thinking, and entering into relations with other arts,” writes the Festival’s Executive Director Grzegorz Jankowicz in the introduction to this year’s first issue of Magazyn Conrad.

Åsa Larsson
(born 1966) – one of the most popular and most translated Swedish authors of crime novels, author of a series with prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson as the main character. She was born in Uppsala, but spent her childhood and youth in the far North, in Kiruna. She returned to Uppsala to study. For several years, she worked as a lawyer specialising in tax law. She debuted in 2003 with a crime novel entitled Sun Storm which became a best-seller and for which she was awarded a prize for the best debut of the year by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy (Svenska Deckarakademin). A year later, members of the Academy recognised Åsa Larsson’s next novel, The Blood Spilt, as the best Swedish crime novel. After the success of the first book, she devoted herself completely to writing. Subsequent parts of Rebecka Martinsson’s adventures are: The Black Path, Until Thy Wrath Be Past, and The Sacrifice to Molok – in Decemer 2012, this last novel was also awarded the title of the Best Swedish Crime Novel by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy. Literary critics emphasize Åsa Larsson’s huge literary talent, unique descriptions of the nature of northern Sweden, skilled combination of criminal intrigue and Biblical motifs, as well as convincing psychological portraits of the characters. The writer currently lives in Mariefred, she has two children. She is a granddaughter of famous Swedish skier Erik August Larsson. To date, four books by Åsa Larsson have been published in Poland under the imprint of Wydawnictwo Literackie: The Blood Spilt, The Black Path, Until Thy Wrath Be Past, and The Sacrifice to Molok.

Tahar Ben Jelloun – he was born in 1944 in the Moroccan city of Fes. He is one of the best known living authors writing in French. He studied philosophy, sociology, and psychiatry. In 1971, he emigrated to France; two years later he published his first novel entitled Harrouds, acclaimed by Barthes and Beckett. He is the author of several volumes of poetry and several dozen novels, two of which, The Sand Child and The Sacred Night (Prix Goncourt, 1987) were published in Polish as a single volume, translated by Małgorzata Cebo (PIW, 1990). Excerpts of three other novels were published in Literatura na Świecie in the following issues: 7/1987 and 11-12/2003 (the latter also featured an interview with the author). In his artistic work, Ben Jelloun often refers to Arabic tradition, fairy tales, and legends, and at the same time raises touchy subjects, such as child prostitution, the problem of gender identity, sexuality, the social position of women, and immigration. In the autumn, the Karakter publishing house will publish a new translation of The Sand Child.

Agnieszka Taborska – writer, art historian, and specialist in Romance studies. She published The Dreamy Life of Leonora de la Cruz (translated into English and French), Topor’s Alphabet, American Crumbs, Conspirators of Imagination. Surrealism, and translations of Philippe Soupault’s, Gisèle Prassinos’, and Spalding Gray’s books. Her fairy tales for adults and children have appeared in Poland, Germany, Japan, and Korea. Since 1988, she has been dividing her time between Warsaw, Poland and Providence, USA, where she lectures on art history at the Rhode Island School of Design.

W.J.T. Mitchel is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. From 1988-1991 he was the head of the Department of English there, and since 1978, he has edited the prestigious periodical Critical Inquiry. His academic work focuses mainly on the relations of image and language researched in the area of art and literature, and in the media. Topics of his publications include a wide range of phenomena: from general problems of the theory of representation to detailed issues of cultural politics and political culture. He received many prestigious awards and scholarships (including those of the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society). Numerous translations of his works include the following languages: French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Chinese, and Japanese. His published books include: Blake's Composite Art (Princeton, 1977), Iconology (Chicago, 1986), Picture Theory (Chicago, 1994), The Last Dinosaur Book (Chicago, 1998), What Do Pictures Want? (Chicago, 2005), and Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present (Chicago, 2011). He edited six volumes of essays published by the University of Chicago Press: The Language of Images (1980), On Narrative (1981), The Politics of Interpretation (1983), Against Theory (1985), Art and the Public Sphere (1993), and Landscape and Power (1994).

The Brothers Quay – they are outstanding creators of puppet animations, directors, graphic designers, and film set designers. Apart from animations, they produced two feature-length live action films (Institute Benjamenta, 1995; The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, 2006) and several ballet films. They draw inspiration from literature (the prose of Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Konrad Bayer, Raymond Roussel, Stanisław Lem), art (outsider art, 20th-century avant-garde), and music (Lech Jankowski, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Witold Lutosławski). They were considerably influenced by the Polish School of Posters, as well as the film works of Walerian Borowczyk and Kon Ichikawa.