8 Cities of Literature, 3 U.S. Cities join UNESCO network

Today, Oct. 31, on UN’s World Cities Day, 64 newly designated UNESCO Creative Cities have been announced. Eight Cities of Literature have been added to our network. We congratulate these cities on their new designation and on all the work they have done to be recognized by UNESCO. All 28 Cities of Literature will be welcomed to Iowa City in April 2018 for our network’s annual conference.

Among the new Cities of Literature is Seattle, which becomes the second U.S. city to earn the designation. Also joining the network from the U.S. are Kansas City (Music) and San Antonio (Gastronomy). That brings the number of U.S. Creative Cities Network members to nine.

“We welcome the new cities to our network, and look forward to learning from and collaborating with these partners,” said John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.

In addition to Seattle, new Cities of Literature are Bucheon, South Korea; Durban, South Africa; Lillehammer, Norway; Manchester, UK; Milan, Italy; Quebec, Canada; and Utrecht, Netherlands.
Iowa City was designated as the third City of Literature in the world, and the second Creative Cities Network member in the U.S. in 2008. Since 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network highlights its members’ creativity within seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. It now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries.

Outgoing UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova announced the new designations today at the UN General Conference in Paris.

“These new designations showcase an enhanced diversity in city profiles and geographical balance, with 19 cities from countries not previously represented in the Network” she said. “The cooperation framework proposed to foster candidate cities from the Africa region – a UNESCO Global Priority – has been a true success with 9 African cities now joining the Network.”

Since 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network highlights its members’ creativity within seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. It now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries.

To learn more about all 64 new Cities, and the 180 total Creative Cities in the UNESCO network, visit UNESCO.org.

Alexander Chee Awarded the Paul Engle Prize

On October 12th, during the 2017 Iowa City Book Festival, Alexander Chee became the 6th recipient of the Paul Engle Prize. You can now watch the complete ceremony, which includes introductions by Iowa City of Literature director John Kenyon and Coralville Public Library director Alison Ames Galstad, remarks by Chee, and a conversation between Chee and Iowa City novelist Garth Greenwell.

Statement on U.S. decision to exit UNESCO

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization is monitoring closely the news from the U.S. State Department that the United States will withdraw from UNESCO at the end of 2018. Because the city’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is a direct relationship between the city and UNESCO, there is no expectation that this decision will alter that status.

Iowa City was named as the third City of Literature in 2008, designated because of our city’s strong literary culture and our deep international connections. That work by our writers, editors, publishers, librarians, booksellers, students, teachers and all others involved in the literary life of our community is more important than ever. The support our organization has seen since this announcement – from the City of Iowa City, local stakeholders, and our colleagues around the world – has been overwhelming, and we look forward to celebrating our literary culture through this week’s Iowa City Book Festival and beyond.

Iowa City Book Festival program now available to download

With the Iowa City Book Festival less than a month away, we’re excited to announce that the Festival program is now available! Festival-goers can download the program on the Iowa City Book Festival website.

This year’s Iowa City Book Festival will take place October 8-15 in Downtown Iowa City. The week’s events include various author talks, panels, readings, and workshops.

G. Willow Wilson, creator of the Ms. Marvel comic series, will kick off the week on Sunday, October 8, at Hancher, and the annual Roast of Iowa City will close the week Sunday evening, October 15. Other featured authors include Alexander Chee, Nathan Englander, and more.

Download your festival program today, and come visit us at the Iowa City Book Festival in October!

Iowa City Book Festival to celebrate international connections

The ninth Iowa City Book Festival schedule will feature a variety of authors from around the country and around the globe as we celebrate books and writing through a number of strong partnerships with community groups. The festival, produced by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, will be held Oct. 8-15, 2017.

The festival – the longest to date – begins on Sunday, Oct. 8, with G. Willow Wilson. The event, in partnership with Hancher and the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, will be held at 2 p.m. in Hancher Auditorium, and is free and open to the public. Wilson, who addresses pressing issues including religious intolerance and gender politics in her work, has published in fiction, nonfiction, and comics. An American convert to Islam, she recounts time spent in Egypt during the waning day of the Mubarak regime, in her memoir, The Butterfly Mosque. The book is the 2017 selection for the One Community, One Book program sponsored by the Center for Human Rights.

The festival then moves to a multi-day celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP). The IWP is best known for the fall residency that brings writers from around the world to Iowa City. Since 1967, more than 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries have been in residence at the UI. The festival will feature readings by IWP guests at Prairie Lights Books on Monday, Oct. 9, and Tuesday, Oct. 10, as well as panel discussions among this year’s resident writers on Tuesday through Saturday.

Wednesday brings fun and politics into the mix with a visit by the authors of The Liberal Redneck Manifesto, comedians Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, and Drew Morgan. Their “WellRED Comedy Tour” comes to the Englert in partnership with the Tuesday Agency. Tickets are on sale starting Aug. 11 at www.Englert.org.

Thursday at the festival features presentation of the City of Literature’s annual Paul Engle Prize to writer Alexander Chee. The prize honors an individual who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts. Chee is the sixth writer to win the award. He will receive the award at an event at 7 p.m. at the Coralville Public Library. He will be joined in conversation by Iowa City novelist Garth Greenwell.

Other highlights include:

  • This year’s read-aloud classic novel is Moby Dick, which will be read from the steps of the Old Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Wednesday, Oct. 11, and from under the giant whale skeleton in Macbride Hall on Thursday, Oct. 12. Information about times and ways to participate will be posted soon at IowaCityBookFestival.org.
  • Poet Rafael Campo, keynote speaker for the University of Iowa’s The Examined Life Conference, will speak and read from his work at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, in the Old Capitol Senate Chambers.
  • The annual Day in the City of Literature returns on Sunday, Oct. 15, when local and regional writers will hold readings hosted at area businesses and other non-traditional venues.

Among the authors who will appear at the festival are fiction favorites and writers tackling a number of fascinating nonfiction subjects. Highlights include:

  • Nathan Englander, a University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and multi prize winning author, will read from and discuss his latest novel, Dinner at the Center of the Earth. He will be joined by fellow novelist, Chris Adrian.
  • Donald Ray Pollock, whose Southern Gothic novels and stories have earned wide acclaim, will read from his latest novel, The Heavenly Table.
  • Will Bardenwerper will read from his book, The Prisoner in His Palace, which tells of the U.S. soldiers who guarded Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in his final days, a book of which Kirkus says, “In skin-crawling detail, the author effectively captures a unique time and place in an engrossing history.”
  • Iowa City writer Lori Erickson will read from Holy Rover, a book that chronicles her travels as a travel writer specializing in holy sites, weaving a personal narrative with descriptions of a dozen pilgrimages.

Other authors scheduled to appear include Ted Genoways (This Blessed Earth), Melissa Fraterrigo (Glory Days), Jennifer Colville (Elegies for Uncanny Girls), Steve Paul (Hemingway at Eighteen), Julia Fiero (Gypsy Moth Summer) and many more.

Saturday also will feature a book fair on the downtown Pedestrian Mall, panel discussions, workshops and more.

Other than the WellRED Comedy event, all festival events announced to date are free and open to the public.