With its 600,000 residents, the port city of Gothenburg is one of Europe’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas. Its creative industry is developing rapidly, with 2,500 creative enterprises and with Gothenburg Book Fair (GBF) as its engine. GBF is one of the world’s largest international book fairs designed for both the publishing industry and the public. In addition, Swedish literature exports have tripled over the past ten years. Given its size, Gothenburg has an impressive literary infrastructure that is nourished by grass-roots initiatives and the strongly entrenched Nordic traditions of free speech, democracy, adult education and publicly-funded culture. It is also Sweden’s largest university town, with 60,000 students and a master’s programme in literary composition. The city has both the intellectual and financial prerequisites that allow its residents to think and create freely. West Sweden, where the city is located, hosts an exciting array of festivals and book fairs. Gothenburg is connected with its literary history via the digital map Litteraturkartan.se. The city is also home to a dense mix of libraries, clubs, associations and venues, including Gothenburg House of Literature, where writers have the chance to meet and develop. Gothenburg has been a City of Refuge for persecuted writers and artists since 1996 and is proud of ICORN author and 2015 Nobel Prize Winner Svetlana Alexievich, among other ICORN artists.
As a Creative City of Literature, the following steps will be important:
- Promoting reading aloud to improve reading skills by developing the city’s equality-promotion project ‘The City Where We Read to Our Children’ locally and internationally;
- Developing strategies for promoting free speech in a new era;
- Exploring links between writing, reading and better health;
- Removing obstacles to reading by increasing libraries’ audiobook users;
- Increasing literature’s visibility in the public space;
- Raising foreign-born local writers’ and readers’ status and establishing a transnational Jewish-literature network; and
- Arranging international exchanges to benefit the public, writers and creative industries.