A Reading List from UNESCO's 28 Cities of Literature
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At the end of October the UNESCO Cities of Literature initiative announced eight new cities as part of its network. The designation awarded by UNESCO goes to cities with a strong literary heritage but also a dynamic contemporary literary scene, and a desire to develop their city via cultural and literary programs. Edinburgh was the first city in a network that now includes 28, in 23 countries and spread across six continents. In order to be part of this global literary family, cities must be able to demonstrate quality literary initiatives such as publishing houses or literary festivals, and the preservation, promotion and dissemination of domestic and foreign literature whether in libraries or bookshops and in public or private cultural spaces.
When a city is designated as part of the network it’s permanent, much like a World Heritage site. According the network’s site, where you can also read about how the idea came to be, it “brings together over 1000 libraries, 70 literary festivals and over 900 bookshops. The world’s oldest book, the world’s tallest monument to a writer, the world’s first Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing programme, the oldest university in central Europe, and the only train station named after a book, can all be found in these cities.”
On Edinburgh's site there are 10 suggested readings for books set in the city, while below you'll find a reading list for great books set in the 28 Cities of Literature, beginning with Edinburgh, and moving east, west and south from there.
Banner photo by Tony Marsh of author Alexander McCall Smith