17 October 2014 Community of readers

The 6th International Joseph Conrad Literature Festival features a number of stars of the world and national literature and hosts countless meetings, debates, workshops and other events. It is possible that the enthusiasts of literary worlds staying in Krakow between 20th and 26th October will be quite breathless.

7 days, nearly 100 events, more than 100 guests from all over the world - we are happy to begin a great literary feast – says Izabela Helbin, the Director of the Krakow Festival Office. The program of this year's festival is exceptionally rich: we can find not only the meetings with unique writers, but also film showings, concerts, exhibitions, attractions for children and workshops – all of them strictly connected with literature and readership promotion. I would like to welcome everyone to join our celebrations.

What will all this look like in practice? It will be possible to check it out during the events going on for the whole week in various venues in Krakow. In this way, the ones who decide to visit the most important points on the festival map, i.e. the Pod Baranami Palace, as well as the ICE Krakow Congress Centre, will be able to experience literature. But not only there.

Who will this time by recommended by the organisers as part of the “writers’ menu”? Among the most famous stars one should mention Boris Akunin, a great Russian writer who has sold about 30 million copies of his books, Paul Auster, one of the most eminent inhabitants of New York, the author and director of such works as Smoke and Lulu on the Bridge, or Jaume Cabré, a Catalan novelist who enchanted the audience with the book I Confess.

Of course, these are just some of the “main courses” prepared for this great festival feast, as we should also add to this fundamental set such foreign authors as John Banville, Etgar Keret, Jacques Ranciere, or Raja Shehadeh, and Marek Bieńczyk, Janusz Głowacki, Jacek Hugo-Bader, Inga Iwasiów, Małgorzata Rejmer, Olga Tokarczuk, Szczepan Twardoch or Krzysztof Varga from Poland. And this is still just a fraction of the rich offer. Among the guests we will not only have authors of best-selling books, but also winners of prestigious awards and scholarships, including the ones awarded in Krakow, e.g. Lawon Barshcheuski, a Belarusian writer, and a grant holder of the ICORN program.

In order to make sure that moving around the festival maze is easier, thematic zones have been prepared. In this way the lovers of film, music, theatre, as well as people interested in the functioning of literature in public space, will be able to savour their own reading experience. At this point, it is worth mentioning that Krakow is not only an important academic centre, but also a depositary of the memory of multicultural heritage, whose bridge to the present time are the more and more modern libraries and bookshops - including one of the oldest bookshops in Europe, still functioning at 23 Market Square.

Since the animation of different elements of literary life constitutes the basic idea of the festival, one should also mention the zone for children, which enjoys great popularity. It will be there this year too, along with the workshops for booksellers and a series of meetings focusing on the book as an object that has to be properly promoted, designed and sold. This cycle will introduce the participants into the secrets of the hard literary work, this time from a point of view different than that of the author. It will also be a chance to have a look at the functioning of various literary institutions.

It seems that last year the most important event of the Festival consisted in awarding Krakow with the title of the UNESCO City of Literature. This is a serious commitment and the International Joseph Conrad Literature Festival proves how the idea works in practice. Krakow, in which Noble Prize winners would find their own minute homeland, has always particularly loved poets and poetry. Also the cooperation of the city with other titled centres honoured by UNESCO is becoming more intensive. A special, separate zone for the Krakow Festival has been prepared by Edinburgh.

Between 20 and 26 October, Krakow will be transformed into the actual capital city of culture and literature, not just of Poland. Conrad’s light for the sixth time will dash off into the world in order to seek allies for the large community of readers.