New York Joins the Word Alliance

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York has joined the six other international Literary Festivals which make up the ground-breaking Word Alliance, which was formed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2010.  The Word Alliance is a collaboration between literary festivals which aims to present the best authors to international audiences at events right across the world.  

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is the inaugural chair of the Word Alliance and in the last 12 months Scottish authors have attended events in Berlin, Jaipur, Toronto, New York and Beijing as part of the touring programme devised by the participating Festivals.  

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival said, “We are delighted to welcome New York to the Word Alliance.  As a result of this collaboration, and with the support of the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we have not only sent Scottish authors to participate in the leading Literary Festivals around the world, but also are looking forward to welcoming authors from all the participating countries to Charlotte Square Gardens this month.”

Laszlo Jakab Orsos, Director of PEN World Voices Festival New York, said “The idea of the Word Alliance is very inspiring for all of us, curators, festival directors in the Alliance. It gives way to broader and more complex projects which ultimately will emphasize the living and stimulating - if not controversial - nature of literature.”

In addition to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Word Alliance network includes The Bookworm International Literary Festival, Beijing, The International Literature Festival in Berlin, Melbourne Writers Festival, the Jaipur Literary Festival, the International Festival of Authors in Toronto and now the Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature.  It is intended that the group will ultimately expand to include Africa and Latin America.

The development of the network, and the inaugural touring programme, is supported by Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.

Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland, said, “Scottish literature is, and has always been, outward looking and the exchange of stories, ideas and experiences is deeply rooted within our culture.  The news that New York will join this network of leading festivals offers intriguing possibilities for collaboration and alliances that bring the written word to life, showcasing Scottish talent to their peers and new readers on a new and exciting stage.’

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “New York’s addition to the Word Alliance - a unique collaboration of leading international literary festivals - is an exciting development, which offers even more opportunities to promote Scottish writing worldwide. This innovative network, supported by our Expo fund, has been instrumental in allowing Scotland’s talented authors to be showcased at literary festivals around the globe and in attracting many more leading writers to Scotland.”

Irvine Welsh, who attended the Pen World Voices Festival in New York as well as the Jaipur Literary Festival, said “Both festivals were highly positive experiences for me. As always, most significant are the intangibles - writers are like everybody else, they need to feel they belong to a broader community of fellow writers and readers, or it all becomes meaningless.”

The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from 13 to 29 August and welcomes almost 800 authors from 40 different countries who will be participating in over 750 events. Full details of the programme and tickets can be found on www.edbookfest.co.uk.

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