Edinburgh: UNESCO City of Literature

A Sense of Place' sets the pace for a bright future for Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature

Feature by Leonora Wood | 15 Feb 2006
It may have passed you by, but following a huge campaign in October 2004 Edinburgh was awarded the honour of being named the first ever UNESCO City of Literature. As such, Edinburgh stands as a trailblazer and an example to other cities vying for this status. But the work of the City of Literature team that led the campaign is far from over. As their mission statement announces, 'Edinburgh: UNESCO City of Literature now seeks to build on this honour, to deliver clear benefits for the city and for Scotland, to promote our country through literature and to establish the city as an example for all the other cities of literature that follow'.

The UNESCO City of Literature title has already led to Edinburgh hosting the awards ceremony of the (similarly first ever) Man Booker International Prize in June 2005. The winner, Albanian writer Ismail Kadare, has just had his latest novel, 'The Successor' published by home-grown Scottish publisher Canongate. The City of Literature team have also anounced a number of their own projects, designed to promote all things literary within the city, including literary walking tours and a general reading campaign. Furthermore, delegations will visit other prospective UNESCO Cities of Literature, to aid them in applying for the award and to strengthen their cultural links with Edinburgh.

Many of these projects are still in the planning stages, but one project that has already gotten off the ground is a competition to celebrate Edinburgh's new UNESCO status. Launched last year by the Scottish Publishers Association, entrants were asked to submit a short narrative essay inspired by the idea of Scotland. Twenty-five selected pieces were then published in a book entitled 'A Sense of Place'. Each writer describes something of what Scotland means to them in relation to a particular place within the country. The results are diverse, including pieces on Leith culture, the old Caledonian forests, and the joys of contemporary Dundee. Most of the short essays are highly readable and as a celebration of the richness of Scotland this book is a triumph. Though the focus is Scotland-wide, 'A Sense of Place' sets the pace for a bright future for Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature.
In conjunction with the Sense of Place project, the SPA have also set up a website www.booksfromscotland.com, a bookselling site that brings together books of Scottish interest with relevant information on writers, titles and publishers.

For more http://www.booksfromscotland.com, www.cityofliterature.com