Tbilisi becomes 2021 UNESCO World Book Capital

  • The year-long programme will introduce the Georgian literary legacy and scene to visitors while helping professionals of the field forge ties at events, and book enthusiasts celebrate their hobby. Screenshot from Tbilisi - World Book Capital video.

Agenda.ge, 24 Apr 2021 - 12:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

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.

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.

"Congratulations! For the following year, Tbilisi is the world book capital!" the official Facebook page of Tbilisi - World Book Capital says:

The World Book Capital programme will involve numerous events, with some of the most notable ones including the following:

  • Urban Stories - a series of literary-musical performances involving authors and musical artists in Old Town districts of Tbilisi - scheduled for June 2021
  • Book Flea Market - showcasing handcrafted items on the theme of books, plus "select books from personal libraries" - June-September 2021
  • Professional Programme for Foreign Publishers - as part of Tbilisi Book Fair, foreign publishers and editors will be involved in a fellowship programme, with the winning participants meeting their Georgian counterparts at the fair - June 2021
  • Literary Forum-Dialogue - networking opportunity for publishers, agents and authors from abroad and local professionals of the field - June 2021
  • Festival of Illustrations - displays and workshops involving Georgia, British and German illustrators - September 2021
  • International Literary Festival of Tbilisi - authors from across the world will feature in the event aiming to expand from its usual scope - September 2021
  • Fairy Tale Festival - exhibitions, workshops, meetings and events for kids will comprise the programme - October 2021
  • Residency Programme for International Authors - residency programmes will see Georgian authors introduced abroad, while their foreign counterparts will take up residencies in Georgia - November 2021
  • International Conference for Publishers - professionals of the field will be invited to talk freedom of expression, copyright and intellectual property, publishing, and textbooks at the event - January 2022

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.