Summit to debate the promotion of Scottish literature

Summit to debate the promotion of Scottish literature

A summit to debate how Scotland’s literature sector should promote its writing and writers overseas is set to take place on Wednesday (23rd November) at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh.

Taking place during Book Week Scotland, the summit is hosted by Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS), Scotland’s largest network of literature and languages organisations, including CILIPS (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland). 

Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Scotland’s minister for international development and Europe, will open the event that brings together writers, publishers, literature organisations and the main public agencies in Scotland with a responsibility for the international promotion of Scotland’s literature and languages.

Author and publisher James Robertson will deliver a keynote speech. Speakers also include non-fiction writer Dr. Gavin Francis, poet Kathleen Jamie and children’s author Vivian French, publishers Canongate and Birlinn, literature organisations Publishing Scotland, Edinburgh International Book Festival and Association of Scottish Literary Studies, and public bodies and agencies Creative Scotland, British Council and Scottish Development International.

The ‘by invitation’ summit responds to recommendation 31 of Creative Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Review, published in June 2015, to "lay the groundwork for a strategic and coordinated international presence".

Donald Smith, vice-chair of LAS, said: “The issue of Scotland’s international presence has been discussed a great deal over the years. This summit marks the first time that the key players will be together in the same space with the same goal of agreeing what needs to be done and how we might work together to do it.

“We’re honoured to welcome Dr Allan MSP to open the day and look forward to hearing from a range of different voices across the sector - both speakers and delegates. We don’t expect to find an answer in only one day, but we’re ambitious to reach a consensus of how we move forward practically, which is a step in the right direction."

Jenny Niven, head of literature, languages and publishing at Creative Scotland, said: “Writing from Scotland, both historic and contemporary, is recognised worldwide for its excellence. However, a stronger, more visible and better coordinated international presence would bring benefit for Scottish writers, publisher and organisations alike, which in turn is of benefit to Scottish culture and society as a whole. This view was voiced across the sector during the consultation commissioned by Creative Scotland in 2015, so it’s terrific to see that work is being made tangible via the upcoming summit.

"There is a range of partners with a vested interest in working towards this goal and having everyone brought together is of enormous value. I look forward to a vibrant discussion, which foregrounds the strengths on which we can build, and lays the foundations for a practical approach in the future.”

To mark the start of Book Week Scotland, a recent Ipsos MORI Scotland survey of 1,000 adults, found that 27% enjoy reading crime fiction, followed by 10% who enjoy science fiction/fantasy and 10% who enjoy biography/autobiography, while 9% like to read historical fiction.

Young readers aged 16-34 meanwhile prefer science fiction/fantasy (15%), while readers aged 55 and over chose historical fiction as their second preference (14%).

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will open the celebrations with a visit to a Glasgow school today (21st November), to meet pupils taking part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.