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Year 2015 – summary of the literary events in the ECoC 2016 programme

Full of adventures, great projects and exceptionally good literature, the year 2015 has already passed! We present a short review of the most important literary events that were organised as part of the European Capital of Culture and UNESCO World Book Capital City programmes in the last year.

We began by presenting Wrocław and Kraków at the Offprint 2015 Book Fair in Paris. The city hosted almost 40 meetings with contemporary Polish authors, and thousands of books were sold by a Polish library. Our section at the book fair was visited by representatives of the highest French authorities including President of France Francois Hollande, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and French and Polish ministers of culture, Fleur Pellerin and Małgorzata Omilanowska. 

The end of May and beginning of June saw us visiting the Book Fair in Madrid. Spanish readers met those representing the best Polish literature: Olga Tokarczuk and Andrzej Sapkowski. Next, by initiative of ECoC, the first edition of a culinary book fair took place during the festival “Europa nawidelcu.” Called “Książkanawidelcu” Cookbook Festival, it presented the most interesting publications on cooking and cuisine, allowed for meetings with Dr. Grzegorz Sobel and Barbara Jakimowicz-Klein, and inaugurated the Wrocław Cookbook project. 

June 13 marked European Literature Night in Wrocław, a project well-known and enjoyed by both residents of the city and guests. Last year’s readers were Maja Bohosiewicz, Katarzyna Herman, Maja Ostaszewska, Łukasz Garlicki, Wojciech Bonowicz, Jacek Braciak, Mariusz Kiljan, Eryk Lubos, Sławomir Orzechowski and Bartosz Porczyk. The authors of the featured but previously unpublished works were Jaume Cabré, Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Michel Houellebecq, Tove Jansson, Hanif Kureishi, Marin Mălaicu-Hondrari, Uładzimir Niaklajeu, Sofi Oksanen and Serhij Żadan. The accompanying programme, a meeting with Hanna Krall and a night concert of the band Świetliki, met huge success.

In September, the ECoC office was invited by the Publishers’ Forum in Lviv, where, for the second time, we organised a discussion panel and a series of training opportunities for over 100 Ukrainian librarians. The aim of this dialogue was to share the Polish experience regarding the reformation of libraries after 1989 and to raise the awareness of the new challenges libraries face today. Our libraries are a valued institution in Poland: not just places for borrowing books, but centres of culture.

In October, we joined the project Czytaj PL! (Read PL!), the largest enterprise promoting reading in Poland and the first of such kind in the world. At that time, public transportation stops in Wrocław became lending libraries of free e-books. Soonafterwards, the Bruno Schulz Festival took place in the city. Its programme included a conference „Paradigms of Gnosis in Contemporary Literature and Philosophy”. Finally, the International Book Fair in Kraków hosted meetings with the authors of fantasy and science-fiction writing, a presentation of the ECoC 2016 programme, talk on the upcomingPolcon Festival,and Literary Elections. December, on the other hand, saw the Wrocław Good Books Fair. There, the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 office presented all of its publications hitherto.

2015 was also a year of long-term projects: the year-long creative writing workshop for secondary and high-school students as part of the Writing Forum for Children and Young Adults; Literary Elections, which awarded Henryk Sienkiewicz and Andrzej Sapkowski as the favourite Polish writers (almost 40,000 votes were cast!), “Reading in the Dark” and apublishing programme of the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016, thanks to which our first unique publications came into being. 

2015 was bursting with literary events, but 2016, the year of UNESCO World Book Capital City and the European Capital of Culture, seems even more fun!

 

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