For more than a decade, British Council and National Centre for Writing have been working together to curate the International Literature Exchange (formerly International Literature Showcase).
ILX brings literature professionals together to learn, exchange expertise and experience, devise collaborations, and build international networks.
ILX is a multilateral international network that helps us all work better, together.
We have now launched International Literature Exchange 2024-26 as a new programme, exploring unique challenges and opportunities facing all those who work with words, books and literature.
Discover ILX 2024, alongside our archive of commissions, recorded events and articles produced in previous years of ILS.
ILX started life as the Norwich Showcase in 2012, and was delivered as the International Literature Showcase from 2015-2021. Through these various guises, we have:
- Delivered four major ILX events, online and in Norwich. A fifth will take place in 2024.
- Gathered together more than 150 literature professionals from six continents and fifty-one countries.
- Invested tens of thousands of pounds (sterling) in new international collaborations.
- Curated high-quality conversations around key themes including activism, digital, diversity, education, equality, festivals, funding, performance, publishing, and much more.
- Showcased more than 100 UK-based writers to the world.
Previous years of ILX
The International Literature Showcase and Norwich Showcase strands now form part of the International Literature Exchange collection.
The International Literature Showcase 2016-17 investigated new approaches to literature, covering themes such as international working, live literature events and literature and activism.
The International Literature Showcase 2019-21 highlighted great UK-based writers and facilitated collaboration and exchange. A selection of 50 writers from diverse backgrounds was curated by Kei Miller, Elif Shafak, Val McDermid, Jackie Kay and Owen Sheers.
ILS 2021 was also dedicated to sharing knowledge and exploring new ways of working. We invited a number of literature practitioners from around the world to examine the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid world.
Between January and March 2024, we will host three private, one-day online symposia, exploring three key challenges facing literature professionals.
The dates and themes are:
- Resilient and financially sustainable careers for literature professionals; innovation, ambition, and how we can ensure work in literature is remunerated appropriately. Thursday 25 January 2024, from 2pm GMT.
- Equality of access and opportunity through education, social justice, and actively inviting in those who are often excluded. Thursday 29 February 2024, from 8am GMT.
- Environmental responsibility, climate justice, and building sustainability into our work; Legend has it that, while a fire destroyed the city of Rome, the emperor Nero played his violin, thus revealing his total lack of concern for people and empire. Thursday 28 March 2024, from 6pm GMT.
Scroll down for more information on these events and the delegates.
Image (c) Martin Figura.
ILX 2024 Events
Why don’t we pay our writers like we pay our sports stars?
Across the world, the ecosystems and industries in which literature operates are relatively small.
As a result of this, writers and literature professionals often struggle to earn a living commensurate with their skill, expertise, and education. So how can we make literature pay better? At the heart of this is a simple question: how do we do business as well as we do art?
This event involved a provocation on the value of writing by Professor Katy Shaw, a chance for ILX participants to share their experiences and knowledge on this theme and discussions on collaboration and business planning from literature industry experts Daniela Ini, Hilary Copeland and Ioannis Kalkounos.
Do we still need more stories?
Every year, more and more work is written. More books are published, more people study creative writing at academic institutions.
More artists and organisations do more important work expanding access to those who have traditionally been excluded from the rarified halls of literature, who have not seen their experiences and identities represented in the books they read.
This is all incredibly positive – and long overdue. But more work is still needed to ensure that there are genuine opportunities for all through literature, as creatives and audiences. We need to talk about why good books struggle to find readers. How do we help work be read widely, inform our culture, and provide those who create them with viable incomes?
Fiddling while Rome burns: What can we do about the climate emergency?
We are in the midst of an ever-unfolding crisis of climate change.
It is likely that in the next 50 years, parts of the world that are currently vibrant communities will become uninhabitable.
How do we respond to the climate crisis in a way that enables literature and the arts to make positive contributions to the benefit of all humanity?
Is there a problem with the notion that playing music is arrogant? What if the arts – the joy and comfort and beauty and challenge and horror and mirror they provide – are the only response we have? That far from disrespect, it is through artistic practice – improvisational, expressive, communicative – that the most effective responses to climate change may emerge. What if we lean into our art, rather than away from it?
ILS 2019-21 highlighted great UK-based writers and facilitated literary collaboration and exchange.
This selection of 50 writers working in the UK was curated by Kei Miller, Elif Shafak, Val McDermid, Jackie Kay and Owen Sheers.
The ILS is dedicated to sharing knowledge and exploring new ways of working. We invited literature practitioners from around the world to examine the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid world. You can find their insights below.
The videos, podcasts and commissions are made possible by support from Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.
Image (c) Jennie Scott.
International Literature Showcase 2021: The View from Here
As part of ILS 2021, we commissioned ten literature practitioners from around the world to share their insights and experiences, reflecting on recent challenges and exploring the opportunities available to the sector in the years ahead.
There were five themes for their commissions: Festival Futures, Enterprise & Experiments, Connecting Communities, Reaching Readers and Shared Futures. Find out more in the articles below.
Lyndsey Fineran, Literature Festival Programme and Commissions Manager at Cheltenham Festivals, opens our series of commissioned think pieces and explores the crucial question of digital programming: how to retain the distinct identity and local connections that make your festival unique?
Seeing Each Other as Never Before
Pooja Nansi, Festival Director, reflects on recent changes to the Singapore Writers Festival and asks, if the view from here has changed forever, what new literature experiences might we create?
Enterprise & Experiments
Paul Bradley-Cong, Director of Out On The Page, explores how to retain a sense of experimentation even during difficult times, and how staying true to the radical queer energy of their membership opened up new international opportunities.
New Ventures During Lockdown
When lockdown hit, Luka Grigolia left the city with a stock of books to get through. But despite the difficulties of lockdown, it has been a busy time of launching new ventures, including Tbilisi World Book Capital, as well as the crucial work of connecting with readers.
Building literary communities in person and on mobile
Dike Chukwumerije of the Abuja Literary Society looks at how, both in person and on mobile, creating a space where writers, readers and audiences can express themselves freely is crucial to building an inclusive literary community.
Wandering into new spaces
Mikael Johani, poet and co-organiser of Jakarta’s Paviliun Puisi, looks at how Zoom events have created new opportunities for self-expression and connection beyond PavPu’s usual venue, beyond Jakarta, and even with international partners.
‘Do the economies of scale justify the energy, electricity, carbon footprint, paper waste, plastic packaging in the mass production of books?’ asks Mehr Husain, founder of Zuka Books, as she explores how sustainable publishing tailored to its local context could hold the answers to the future of publishing in Pakistan.
Crowdsourcing and the canon
‘A list, a curriculum, a bookshelf, a publishing trend – they are attempts to anchor us, but the real joy is floating just outside of that’ writes Alana-Marie Gopaul of Bocas Lit Fest, as she reflects on crowdsourcing a list of 100 Caribbean Books That Made Us.
The power of partnerships
Is a partnership really just a contractual relationship? Sharmilla Beezmohun, co-founder and Director of Speaking Volumes, explores how building trust through partnership working can open new opportunities for innovation and inclusion.
A new era for literature work
Diana Santiago of Kujiezela Wall reflects on the recent challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and imagines the future of literature work: a future in which funders, beneficiaries, artists and literature workers collaborate more closely than ever.
The International Literature Showcase 2016 presented the best of contemporary British literature, and brought together an online community of literature professionals from around the world to share best practice, form partnerships and create new projects.
Through this showcase you’ll discover groundbreaking British writers and organisations, encounter new approaches to literature and benefit from industry discussions.
Image (c) Allan Gichigi Photography.