23 April is a symbolic date for world literature. It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.
It was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. With this in mind, UNESCO created the World Book and Copyright Day.
The 24th edition of World Book and Copyright Day will celebrate literature and reading while focusing particularly on the importance of enhancing and protecting Indigenous languages. As a vector of knowledge, books bring people together around a story and a common heritage while revealing their specificities through different cultures, identities and languages. The focus on this topic is fully in line with the celebration of the International Year of the Indigenous Languages.
World Book Capital for 2019: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Each year, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a one-year period, effective 23 April each year.
The city of Sharjah was selected because of the very innovative, comprehensive and inclusive nature of the application, with a community-focused activity programme containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population. With the slogan “Read – you are in Sharjah”, the programme focuses on six themes: inclusivity, reading, heritage, outreach, publishing and children. Among other things there will be a conference on freedom of speech, a contest for young poets, workshops for creating Braille books and tactile books as well as many events for Sharjah’s multi-ethnic population. The city’s objective is to foster a culture of reading in the United Arab Emirates and birth new initiatives to meet the challenge of literary creation in the area and in the rest of the Arab world.