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April 23rd is World Book Day and Cork County Council is delighted this year to link with their cultural partners at the Nanjing Literature Centre to celebrate this special day. This particular date is chosen for World Book Day because it is the anniversary of the two of the world’s greatest writers, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

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Cork County Council is busy developing economic connections with the Jiangsu region of China of which Nanjing is the capital city through a joint agreement between both local authorities established in 2017.

Today, with much of the world in lockdown as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, Nanjing Literature Centre has invited writers from several countries to contribute a short video reading to celebrate World Book Day.

Welcoming this initiative and the strong connections now established with Nanjing the Mayor of County Cork, Cllr. Ian Doyle said “This lovely video is a timely reminder that reading and literature is a fundamental part of all cultures. Through reading we have the opportunity to learn and explore ideas, stories and the world outside of ourselves. I welcome this wonderful gesture of world solidarity through our shared interest in and love of the written word”

Among the readers featured is Cork’s own Billy O’Callaghan. Billy is a former Cork County Council Writer in Residence and has edited the Council’s short story publication “From the Well” for many years. Billy has won several major awards for his writing. In November 2013, “The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind”, won the inaugural Short Story of the Year Award at the 2013 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award; “Down by the River” was selected in 2014 as Ireland’s representative in the ongoing UNESCO Cities of Literature project; and “The Boatman” was a finalist for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award.

Featured with Billy O’Callaghan are the UK’s Simon van Booy, Sergei Gogin (Russia), J. M. G. Le Clézio (France), Cho Nam-Ju (South Korea), Zef Da (South Africa) and Bi Feiyu (China)

Nanjing is the first city in China to be given the designation as UNESCO City of Literature, which it was awarded in 2019.

Ms. Audrey Azouley Director General of UNESCO comments in the video, “Books help to weave humanity together as a single family, holding a past in common, a history and heritage, to craft a destiny that is shared where all voices are heard in a great chorus of human aspiration. Books are our allies in spreading education, science, culture and information worldwide.”

Commenting on the initiative, Tim Lucey chief Executive of Cork County Council said, “We are delighted that we are able to continue to support and foster cultural exchange with Nanjing. This gesture by Nanjing Literature Centre and the part we were able to play in ensuring that it featured a major Cork born author is an example of the work we are continuing to do to build greater connections and links with our partners in China in both culture and in business.”


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