31 October 2010 Iran Twice

Among guests of the festival there will be Marek Kęskrawiec, an author of Czwarty pożar Teheranu (The Fourth Fire Of Teheran) for which he received the Beata Pawlak Award. On 3 November at 7.00 p.m., together with Olga Stanisławska and Mateusz Marczewski, he will take part in the meeting Inny świat, inny język (The Other World, The Other Language), which will be moderated by Roman Kurkiewicz.

The Fourth Fire Of Teheran is a reportage devoted to modern Iran which goes beyond the description of the “collision of cultures” as well as the stereotypical vision of the “country of opposites”. The authors puts an emphasis on how fluid, unstable and vague the borderline in Iran turns out to be between what is safe and what is deadly perilous; between what is friendly and what is fundamentally cruel. It is a study of anxiety – which is connected here with fascination anyway – aroused by the proximity of things and phenomena that are only apparently incompatible with one another.

The interest in modern Iran and its latest history brings Kęskrawiec close to Marjane Satrapi, who will also be a guest of the Conrad Festival. Published in four volumes (in the Polish version there are only two), Persepolis – a graphic novel by Satrapi – is a story of the author’s childhood spent in Iran, of her departure to Europe and confrontation with Western life. The continuous transition between perspectives of two cultures serves here only as a background not only for the moving biographical narrative, but also for the tale of the recent history and life in the Islamic Republic.

Kęskrawiec and Satrapi are not the only participants of the festival whose literary works were largely shaped by the collision of the „western” perspective with everyday life in countries of the Middle East. Among guests of this year’s edition of the Festival there are also Amos Oz – an Israeli writer in whose books micronarratives and private stories interweave with the criticism of the Israeli society (apart from the main schedule of the festival, he visited Krakow on 20 October), and Rabih Alameddine, an American writer of Lebanese origin, in whose novel The Hakawati the interest in literary metanarratives is combined with the difficult subject of global social transformations.