Award-winning author Lara Calleja has urged people to set their differences aside and unite in opposition to policies that negatively impact their quality of life.
Calleja, who was a guest on yesterday’s episode of Lovin Daily, is the first Maltese woman to win the European Prize for Literature awarded by the European Commission for her book Kissirtu Kullimkien – a collection of short stories whose central theme is the rampant construction and development which has engulfed Malta over the past years.
“I’ve always had political sensibilities, ever since I was a young child,” Calleja said, adding that she has always been particularly interested in issues related to social justice and activism.
Calleja is in fact an active member of Moviment Graffitti, the civil society group that has taken the lead in organising residents to oppose various projects around the island.
She said she had written the book during a time when a block of flats was being built right opposite where she lives. “It was a time when there was a lot of construction – noise, cranes everywhere you look, everything.”
The book is Calleja’s second, with the author explaining when she sits down to write, she is naturally attracted to such themes.
“They’re all very personal stories of the same occurrence but told through the lens of different people’s experiences,” she said.
Asked whether she intended for the book to bring across a particular message, Calleja said that any work of art ultimately represents the author’s artistic expression. She added however that she also tries to bring across a political message.
“The message is ultimately that we need to stop treating politicians like gods. They aren’t gods…We need to stop fighting amongst ourselves, because this is politicians’ game, to have us fight amongst ourselves.”
The public, she insisted, needed to embrace its right to protest and to make its voice heard because contrary to what many believe, it is politicians that need the people and not the other way around.
Calleja said she was a big believer in literature being accessible to all, which is why she chooses to write using simple language that everyone can understand.
“At the end of the day, that is what politics is about. It’s about people’s lives, whether they can get by till the end of the month, their quality of life and stuff like that.”
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