UNESCO Declares Lahore as the City of Literature

Highlights of the Post:
UNESCO Literature Programme
Lahore- City of Literature
Impact & Benefits 

The news is pretty evident from the title of this blog. However, we will give you a virtual tour of the events that happened at Alhamra Art Center’s Burney Garden in Lahore. In a ceremony held at the aforementioned venue, UNESCO conferred Lahore as the ‘City of Literature’. 

In our recent blogs, we have already shared the reason why the City of Gardens is also a city with rich culture and tradition and has produced many of the subcontinent’s poets and authors. Checkout our traveller’s guides on the Walled City and the 13 Gates of Lahore.

 Let’s explore everything about Lahore’s culture in the light of the UNESCO Literature Programme!  

UNESCO’s Literature Programme

History Of Lahore In Urdu
UNESCO created a network of creative cities in 2004

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) created a network of creative cities in 2004, to promote international cooperation between countries who work hard to promote culture and creativity. The network contains a number of categories from design, film, media, arts, and literature among few others.

Criteria for City of Literature

The ‘City of Literature Programme’ comprises 39 cities that have preserved their culture in terms of literature. All these cities form the pillars of the cultural roof over the world. 

 The scale for qualifying is mentioned below:

  • Quality, quantity, and diversity of publishing in the city
  • Numbers of educational programmes focusing on literature
  • Role of literature, drama, or poetry in the city
  • Hosting literary events
  • Number of bookstores, libraries, and cultural centres
  • Translation of books written in foreign language and the role of publishing sector in the process
  • Role of media in promoting literature

Note: Interested cities had to submit their bids in order to participate in the City of Literature Programme by UNESCO. 

City of Literature List

UNESCO’s literature programme has awarded the City of Literature title to 39 countries. Edinburgh, England was the first city to be awarded this honor in 2004.

Some of the cities of literature are:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Exeter, England
  • Iowa City, USA
  • Lillehammer, Norway
  • Lviv, Ukraine
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Slemani, Iraq
  • Nanjing, China
  • Quebec City, Canada
  • Baghdad, Iraq

Lahore as the City of Literature

 Lahore Culture
Lahore has been the Cultural Hub of Pakistan for many years
Credits: WCLA

UNESCO declared Lahore as the City of Literature, making it the first city of Pakistan to be added to the list of creative cities. As stated above, the cities together aim to promote literature through books, art, music, drama to name a few.

A beautiful ceremony was held at the Alhamra Art Center’s Burney Garden. The director of UNESCO and Punjab government officials highlighted the importance of Lahore as a literary centre, while Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan was the honorary chief guest.

Lahore has been the Cultural Hub of Pakistan for many years and  the city has built its reputation as being the centre of literature for the country. 

Several factors come into play when Lahore was conferred the title of the City of Literature. The city is home to renowned authors, poets, bookstores, publishing houses,and literary events and festivals. Meanwhile, some cafes have also played their part in bringing the literature of the city to the spotlight. Not to mention, Lahore Literary Festival had a major role in this process. 

About Lahore Literary Festival

The CEO of Lahore Literary Festival (LLF), Mr Razi Ahmed said in a statement, “7 years of the festival has fostered a community of book lovers to come in closer range of writers and poets for intellectual stimulation” 

The festival has allowed the citizens to connect with the city’s rich cultural past. They received a chance to discover old and new literary gems that have added to the culture of the city. 

The importance of the festival isn’t limited to connecting the people to literature; it is the one event that encouraged the citizens to diverge in literature. The festivals pushed people to write and read. It also kick started a number of literary events and mushaira.

Lahore’s Literary Culture

Lahore has always been at the forefront of all the literary activities in Pakistan. Writers and poets of the city include Sadaat Hasan Manto, Bapsi Sidhwa, and Habib Jalib, who have used their writing to raise the voice for the ones who are less fortunate. 

The works of contemporary authors from Lahore have effects on individuals from all over the country and the world.  Books like ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Mohsin Hamid and ‘Homefire’ by Kamila Shamsie were recently added to the list of ‘100 novels that shaped our world’. Apart from these two there have been many individuals from Lahore who have published enchanting novels.

The literary festival, mushairey and the Faiz International Festivals aren’t the only platforms where an individual can showcase their talents.  

As mentioned earlier, cafés have been playing their part in this process as well. Mocca Coffee, a café in Lahore hosts an event called moccatalks, where first time authors discuss their publishing experiences. They also hold recitation and workshops for aspiring writers. 

Similarly, The Last World Bookstore organised a series of lectures, Café Kafka, where they analyse the works of Franz Kafka. The bookstore also holds weekly Kid’s Story Time, where stories are read aloud for them. 

Impact & Benefits of the Title – City of Literature

 Lahore’s Literary Culture
The cities of literature work together to raise one another
Credits: WCLA

The designation of city of literature brings with it, not only honor for the country, but a promise that in the near future the cultural capital of the city would further be uplifted.

The cities of literature work together to raise one another and help grow in terms of literature, through arts and crafts, drama, music etc. Furthermore, it will attract global literary figures, which will further enhance the soft image of the country.

The addition of Lahore to the list of UNESCO’s creative cities will also help boost the tourism industry of Pakistan as well.

Lahore being titled a city of literature was nothing short of a proud and historic moment for the residents of the country. We hope that in the future, other major or minor cities of the country will also be added to the various lists of UNESCO. For more information about the culture and lifestyle of Pakistan, stay updated with JagahOnline Blogs and follow us on Facebook as well.