Today is World Book Day (and is there a single day of the year left which is not similarly appropriated for some good cause?). It's also Shakespeare's birthday, and St George's Day to boot.
There are, it seems, 781 million illiterate people in the world - or 'people who lack literacy' as they are more sensitively categorised. Of theses, shockingly, 32 million are in the United States. Imagine not being able to read and write. Imagine not being able to read and write and living in the United States. I'd be interested to know what (if anything) connects that huge minority. Do they fit any demographic? Are they wholly illiterate, or simply have problems with reading and writing? Literacy of course has nothing to do with literature - it's about reading pharmacy labels or timetables or cooking instructions or public signage. It's about navigating the world, day by day.
The reason I haven't blogged at all for the past few weeks is because
a) I started a new job (which is publishing-related in that I now work for the mighty Pearson organisation, owners of Penguin Books and the Financial Times and much more). This has kept me busy, an old dog learning new tricks and
b) I've been working flat out to complete About a Girl, to be published by CB editions in September this year. This is a monograph about the author Eimear McBride and her debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing.
But I'm prompted by World Book Day, and more particularly by a colleague at Pearson, to offer this link to something very worthwhile:
Do take a look at Project Literacy
And for my regular readers who expect something a tad more literary on this blog here's something I learned this week: Anton Chekov had a dachshund named Quinine