COMEDY AND CRISIS
The European Literature Days are now almost in their fifteenth year, and during that time, many writers have related their personal experiences of despotism, destruction, violence and terrible suffering in wartime. They hailed from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe or the former Yugoslavia; they came, too, from the Ukraine, which has now become a battlefield. A few weeks before the Russian army invaded Ukraine, Natalka Sniadanko from Lviv and Vladimir Sorokin from Moscow confirmed their participation in the European Literature Days 2022. The theme was to be “Comedy in Crisis”. In the meantime, Vladimir Sorokin withdrew from the festival and, at our opening event, Natalka Sniadanko’s talk will be about the present and future of Europe. The title “Comedy in Crisis” sounds, in a dramatic way, completely inappropriate. And yet at its core it still addresses something important – black humour often emerges where sheer hopelessness prevails, and it is a fundamental human approach.
The Bosnian writer, Dževad Karahasan, powerfully described what comedies can mean. During the siege of Sarajevo in 1993, the American writer Susan Sontag had stayed for six weeks in the bombed city and carried on with rehearsals for Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with a group of Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian actors. She wanted to show with the performance at the youth theatre that her place is on the side of those who live under constant threat. Karahasan, who was himself in the beleaguered city, welcomed Sontag’s initiative; however, he wished she would have chosen a comedy. In this situation, the people in Sarajevo would have preferred to see a comedy. The European Literature Days 2022 ask international guest writers and philosophers questions about comedy and apocalyptic events, and invite them to present talks, give readings and join in conversations about these issues.
In Themes of Our Time, a new program feature that is also available via live stream, you can spend three days with international writers, follow them in the intervals between each event or join in a guided walk with them. Book talks, performances and concerts are also part of the agenda.
Inspiration, a love of literature and meeting international guests are again the main attractions for the enthusiastic audience. In partnership with kremskultur and Glatt&Verkehrt Festival, this year the European Literature Days offer a double debut for an all-round artistic experience.
Hidden Treasures combines the discovery of cultural landmarks in Krems with Words and Sounds, a showcase of international literature, regional music and theatre.
The crowning finale once more is the Sunday literary and musical matinée to celebrate this year’s prizewinner of the Austrian Book Trade’s Honorary Award for Tolerance in Thought and Action. An exciting program of readings and workshops in regional schools also runs again in parallel to all the main events.
Comedy in the face of crisis – is this a cultural technique that helps us to coexist with the unfathomable? We warmly invite you to explore this question!
Artistic Director Literaturhaus Europa