Letter: Literary island

Sir: Eric Dickens (letter, 29 June) is right to remind us, literary editors and readers alike, that our choice of literature reflects our widely acknowledged insularity.

This was complacently exploited this year by the UK organisers of World Book Day, 23 April, conveniently ignoring the significance of the word "world" and homing in on the coincidence that it marked Shakespeare's birthday. That it also marked the birthdays of Cervantes, Nabokov, Joseph Pla, Valejos and the late Laxness seemed of no interest.

The organisers' publication, The Grown-ups' Book of Books, was as UK- centric as last year's Children's Book of Books. Even the foreword suggests the idea originated here rather than at an international conference for publishers held in Catalonia. Worse, they managed to persuade the Department for Education and Employment to endorse such isolationism.

How do we address this? Next year, a UK National Commission for Unesco will be set up, able to influence how Unesco's programmes are promoted in the UK. And literary editors should consider carefully how translations can be highlighted; purchase of Unesco's Index Translationum, now on CD- Rom, would be a start.


Secretary, UK Unesco Forum

London SW1