Georgia's capital Tbilisi is about to turn into a hub for book lovers, literary organisations, publishers and bookstores over the next year as the city formally accepted the status of the 2021 UNESCO World Book Capital on Friday.
Coincided with World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, the handover of the title from Kuala Lumpur to the Georgian city was marked at a ceremony that saw in-person and remote addresses from respective mayors, the Georgian president, UNESCO representatives and more.
First designated to receive the 2021 status two years ago, the capital is now about to host a programme of book festivals, publisher events, conferences, performances, author residencies and more for the duration of the World Book Capital project.
So proud of ???????? capital #Tbilisi to be named the #WorldBookCapital2021 by @UNESCO! We are very happy for Tbilisi to be the host of a massive number of events, bringing together bookworms, authors & publishers, & contribute to the promotion of books & reading all over the ???????? pic.twitter.com/EbtOjZWRvr— David Zalkaliani (@DZalkaliani) April 23, 2021
The programme for marking the major status has been "entrusted to the best team", Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze told the celebratory event in the city on Friday, while adding it would enable local literary enthusiasts to "widen their horizons" while introducing the country to international guests and participants.
Writers' House of Georgia, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association, Museum of Literature, National Parliamentary Library, Union of Tbilisi Museums, Georgian National Film Centre, United Nations Population Fund and other organisations will be taking part in the project alongside artists, students and others.
In this digital era, when books begin to face competition for the attention of young generations, this UNESCO initiative gives us the opportunity to remind everyone - adults and children, locals and foreign guests - of the significant and irreplaceable nature of books
- Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia
Further marking the occasion, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili announced a formation of a brand-new prize under her aegis. The Elisabed Orbeliani Prize for the First Translation of a Young Translator will be handed out on April 22, 2022 for the first time as part of the programme.
Zurabishvili said the initiative was aimed at supporting local translators to ensure the Georgian literature took its place on the international scene.
The World Book Capital programme will involve numerous events, with some of the most notable ones including the following:
World Book Capital was launched by a UNESCO General Conference in 2001. The project promotes the book culture worldwide and takes place in different cities every year. Its aims include encouragement of book culture among readers of all ages, and promotion of the development of the library sectors and publishing industry.