Essential Reading

4 October 2021

Autumn in Kraków – UNESCO City of Literature is a perfect time to catch up on reading. Science fiction and fantasy, poetry and serious literature – between September and November, our reading list abounds with titles from classics to the latest publications.

The marathon starts with Gabriela Zapolska’s drama The Morality of Mrs. Dulska at the 10th Annual Reading Session (4 September) and Stanisław Lem’s classic science fiction. During the Megabit Bomb Festival (10–14 September), held as part of the Year of Lem, we explored most aspects of the philosopher and futurologist’s life and work. The ICE Kraków Congress Centre and the Potocki Palace were filled to the brim with Lemologists and Lemophiles attending debates, concerts, book launches, film screenings and theatre performances. We even took an extraterrestrial turn, with a transmission paying homage to Lem beamed down from the International Space Station.

Once we’re down to earth again, it’s time for an encounter with verse during the 11th Poetry Night (8–10 October). The protagonists of this year’s event, held under the banner “Power of Poetry!”, will be Cyprian Kamil Norwid (we will explore his works once again in November) and Tadeusz Różewicz, patrons of 2021 alongside Lem, as well as Julia Hartwig and Krzysztof Baczyński marking the 100th anniversaries of their births, and Adam Zagajewski who passed away a few months ago. During events held at libraries, cultural institutions and indie bookshops we’ll discuss the power of words.

To find even more of it, we’ll head to the 24th International Kraków Book Fair (14–17 October), presenting the latest releases in all genres. Once again EXPO Kraków presents literary titles hot off the press. This year’s event will be held stationary after last year's virtual edition.

Hybrid event will be the Conrad Festival (18–24 October), held at the Potocki Palace and the PLAY KRAKÓW VOD platform. Authors discussing important political, social and linguistic issues explored in their books include Rebecca Solnit, Lisa Appignanesi, Valeria Luiselli, Han Kang, Behrouz Boochani and Brandon Hobon. Discussions on the Polish book industry will be held as part of the Book Congress, while the Word2Picture strand once again provides a platform for collaboration between representatives of the literary and film industries. There will also be film screenings, reading clubs for adults and literary workshops for kids.

We return to Cyprian Kamil Norwid, one of Poland’s four most important Romantic poets, during the Norwid Festival (25–28 November) in Nowa Huta. The Cyprian Kamil Norwid Cultural Centre recalls its patron – the only Polish romantic bard who visited Kraków and wrote locally-themed dramas Wanda and Krakus. The festival programme also features discussion panels, the Norwid Prize Gala, a concert, an urban game, creative writing workshops and an outdoor art installation.

There’ll be plenty of opportunities to read with the Read PL campaign throughout November, a poll to choose the best bookshop of the year in Kraków and cyclical literary meetings at the Potocki Palace. Additionally, Discussion Reading Clubs are launched at indie bookshops in September, featuring contemporary novels, reportages, essays and comic books (Anna Mazur).

The text published in the 3/2021 issue of the “Kraków Culture” quarterly.

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