Do you live in a City of Literature?


This year Lahore has been dubbed a City Of Literature.

What does it mean to be a City of Literature? How do you become a City of Literature?

City of Literature is a venture initiated by UNESCO in 2004, where Nanjing and Baghdad figure; Stratford on Avon, Oxford and Cambridge do not. Edinburgh was the first city identified under this scheme. Manchester, Melbourne, Prague, Durban and Milan find spots on the list.

So, how do they judge which city is the right pick?

These are the features they look for quality, quantity, and diversity of publishing in the city; educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels;  how important  the role of literature, drama, and poetry are in the city. They also check out how many literary events and festivals promoting domestic and foreign literature are hosted in the city.

Manchester has the library. Edinburgh hosts the International Book Festival and has its own poet laureate. Melbourne has more than 300 bookshops. There are seven Asian cities in the list including  Nanjing and, now, Lahore.

Libraries, bookstores, and public or private cultural centres, which preserve, promote, and disseminate domestic and foreign literature, involvement of the publishing sector in translating literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature and active involvement of traditional and new media in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products are the other factors.

We are told in Lithub: “These schemes thus treat a city’s literary heritage and present book industry infrastructure as an occasion to develop the cultural tourism and creative economy sectors.” There is no room for ephemeral poetry or avant-garde literature. ” Instead the literary is now treated largely as a brand that inheres in particular lucrative industries.”

Read more about this program and its implementation in Lahore in this article in Newsweek.


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