The Aye Write! festival in Glasgow, which is Scotland’s second largest book festival, is taking place for the 11th year running and I am sure that its success over those years will be continued. Although I have no plans at present to visit the festival, it is welcoming leaders from all parties in the Parliament at separate events in the series entitled “The Books That Made Me”, including the First Minister, who is due to close the event on Sunday 20 March.
Glasgow City Council is very proud to hold the Aye Write! book festival as it has done for the past 11 years.
It has been observed that the festival has a low level of participation by people from ethnic minority communities—as participants and contributors. I know of several Glaswegians from diverse backgrounds who have published books in the past few years. I want to mention some of the writers in Glasgow who I am proud to know: Ahmad Riaz, Aman, Bashir Maan, Charan Gill, Farha Malik, Imtiaz Ali Gohar, my own mother Philomena Malik, Rahat Zahid and Taresh Nehar. Those are just 10 writers from Glasgow who have written books but they have not had the opportunity to participate in the festival. What will the Scottish Government do to increase participation in literary and cultural events for such talented people?
The member makes a valid point although I am not sure how appropriate it is for him to plug his mother’s book in Parliament. [Laughter.] I am sure that it is a wonderful book.
Creative Scotland has given Aye Write! funding of £105,000. I have asked Creative Scotland to make sure that the people and organisations that it funds take on equalities issues. Since Aye Write! receives Creative Scotland funding, that will be one way of doing what the member suggests.
I do not often agree with the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, but she chose “A Thousand Splendid Suns” as one of her favourite books in the interview with Phil Miller; it is also a favourite of mine. Perhaps we can share that across the chamber.