The Conrad Festival
The Conrad Festival is the largest international literary event in Poland and one of the largest in Europe. Established in 2009, every year it hosts artists from many countries and cultures, who write in different languages and present various views. Also this edition will feature meetings in Krakow with Polish writers such as Olga Tokarczuk, Wiesław Myśliwski and Wojciech Jagielski, as well as authors from abroad including Arundhati Roy, Martín Caparrós and Bernard Pivot.
This year’s Conrad Festival will ask critical questions regarding “pop”, which is considered the core of our current cultural and political experiences. Each day will be devoted to a different key word: Correctness (in Polish: ‘poprawność’), Popularity (‘popularność’), Drive (‘popęd’), Populism (‘populizm’), Popculture (‘popkultura’), Panic (‘popłoch’), Demand (‘popyt’). These key concepts will be the leading themes of discussions held by the guests.
The Festival is traditionally accompanied by the Book Fair (25-28 October). This year, for the 22nd time, literature lovers will be able to gather and meet with authors, while publishing houses from Poland and abroad will exhibit their offerings and latest publications. Children’s Workshop Zone will allow young readers to meet their favourite writers of children’s books, to learn how to write poems, to participate in artistic, spelling and literary workshops.
This year’s honorary festival guest is Sweden. Therefore, it is not surprising that a lot of attractions prepared in cooperation with the Swedish Embassy in Poland will focus on the youngest readers. However, fans of the gloomy atmosphere of Swedish detective novels will surely also find something of interest for them.
The Conrad Award, presented since 2015, was established to promote new voices in Polish literature, inspire the interest of a wide audience in the work of the first-time authors, as well as to support young writers experiencing the difficult period between releasing their first and second book. The award includes a cash prize of PLN 30,000, a month-long residence stay in Krakow, and the promotion of the winning book in Tygodnik Powszechny weekly. To date, the Award was presented to Liliana Hermetz (2014), Żanna Słoniowska (2015) and Anna Cieplak (2016). The winner will be selected jointly by readers and members of the jury. The official award ceremony is scheduled for the Conrad Festival finale, concluding a week of meetings with the authors of the nominated books set to take place throughout the festival.
Interestingly, the festival is not dedicated to the work of Joseph Conrad, who instead is a symbolic patron of this international undertaking. Conrad combined different traditions, but he never erased borders. He wrote in English, but he always emphasised that every text written was a translation from a foreign language, and was the effect of a never-ending process of translating one idea into another. Today, Conrad is a universal symbol of international literary communication. He set out into the world from Krakow to write; to write stories thanks to which we can understand people living elsewhere. The festival invites authors from all over the world to Krakow, to once again embark on the work of translation and understanding.
The Conrad Festival is organised by the City of Krakow, the Krakow Festival Office and the Tygodnik Powszechny Foundation.
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