The World's Best Unknown Books
20 10 2014

Mr Schwob visits Kraków

On October 21, 2014, three exceptional writers from Finnegan’s List juries past and present – Gabriela Adameşteanu, Dimitri Verhulst & György Dragomán – will speak at the Conrad Festival about their favourite classics. The event will take place in Kraków, a UNESCO City of Literature, at the Massolit Bookstore & Café.

Hungarian author György Dragomán (author of the celebrated novel The White King) will present Péter Lengyel’s book Cobblestone to the audience. What seems at first to be a simple detective novel set in Budapest on the eve of the 20th century becomes a meticulously plotted narration of the city of Budapest throughout the ages. György will tell us how he discovered the city with this precious guide in hand. Péter Lengyel, a major Hungarian intellectual, might remind readers in some respects of Paul Auster in his New York books. As Lengyel gives a detailed philosophical description of the city and its inhabitants, we witness local events turn into universal topics.

Romanian writer Gabriela Adameşteanu – known for her acclaimed novels Wasted Morning and The Equal Way of Every Day – will speak about Portuguese author Lídia Jorge, a true modern classic. Gabriela will talk about Jorge’s richly poetical and yet precise writing style. The Migrant Painter of Birds is a novel on the disintegration of a Portuguese family from the Algarve, a portrait of the Dias family members and their secrets, but also a portrait of Portugal from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. The novel received numerous awards, and Portuguese author José Saramago gave it particularly high praise.

Dimitri Verhulst is from Belgium, although he prefers to present himself as a writer whose nationality is literature. He will discuss a classic writer from Eastern Europe: Daniil Kharms, the master of Absurdism. Dimitri Verhulst is known for his novels The Misfortunates, Problemski Hotel and Christ’s Entry into Brussels. He will speak about the selected writings of Daniil Kharms, published in English translation under the title Today I Wrote Nothing. He will also argue why it is important to defend the oeuvre of Kharms, one which “hardly survived the totalitarian regime of communism and is slowly dying today in the totalitarian regime of bestseller culture.”