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The Malta Book Festival Is Unmissable: Meet Your Literary Giants And Local Heroes

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Literary lovers and film buffs rejoice as The Malta Book Festival is back to brighten up our not-so-sunny November. Turn your drab days into exciting ones with these eleven events which you simply cannot miss! You can check out the full programme here.

The opening night goes online 

This year’s edition of the Malta Book Festival will be opening with the announcement of the winners for the National Book Prize for children’s and adolescents’ literature – AKA The Terramaxka Prize. The 16 shortlisted titles, across the six categories, which had been published in 2020, ranging from original and translated works, have been selected by an independent jury. Year after year, The Terramaxka Prize-winning and shortlisted works provide a reliable guide to the most pleasant books published locally for children of all ages.

Irvine Welsh has two events – Here’s where to book

The headline guest for the 2021 Malta Book Festival is Irvine Welsh, the bestselling author of Trainspotting, which was famously adapted into a cult-classic 1993 film by Danny Boyle. On Wednesday 3 November at 7:30 pm Welsh will be sitting down for an interview with Maltese author of Kapitali (2017), Wayne Flask, followed by a book signing. 

The next day, on Thursday 4 November at 7:30 pm, Welsh will join poet and writer Immanuel Mifsud in a discussion on the global reach of Welsh’s works, including its influence on Maltese literature. This will be moderated by Mark Vella, translator, founder and former director of early-noughties publishing house Minima Publishers, whose efforts to push the boundaries of Maltese literature gave voice to a new generation of up and coming young writers – including Mifsud himself.

Many other guests

This year readers also get the chance to encounter works of Maltese literature in English, and the publishing professionals behind them, thanks to a number of new publications. On Friday 5th November at 5:30 pm, Peter Owen Publishers are launching Exodus of the Storks, the first English translation of Walid Nabhan’s 2017 European Union Prize for Literature-winning novel L-Eżodu taċ-Ċikonji (2013), translated by Albert Gatt. Adrian Grima will be moderating a discussion with Managing Director at Peter Owen Publishers Nick Kent and Walid Nabhan. 

On Saturday 6th November at 5:00pm, London-based Praspar Press will be presenting two new publications of Maltese literature in English and English translation. First up, Scintillas: New Maltese Writing, an anthology of contemporary Maltese fiction, poetry and essays; and What Will it Take for Me to Leave, the upcoming English translation of short stories by Loranne Vella. Later on Saturday, at 7:30pm, Kat Storace (Praspar Press), Nick Kent, Fatimah Abbas (Dar Noon Publishers – Egypt), and Angela Arce (Colmillo Blanco – Peru) will be talking about the appeal of publishing Maltese works in their respective markets.

Danusan live in show!

Each evening throughout the Festival, the popular comedy duo Danusan will be returning with their family show ‘Il-Kotba Jieħdu l-Ħajja’ (Books Come to Life), based on the 2021 Terramaxka Prize-winning works. The live theatrical show will run daily at 6:30pm on weekdays, and at 4:30pm for two special longer shows (60 mins) on Saturday and Sunday. For the first time this year, the shows will be free, but tickets must be booked ahead from www.showshappening.com.

Other activities organized by the KNK, including celebratory evenings, audiovisual work, and poetry

In collaboration with a number of its local and international partners, NBC is organising a number of events showcasing its efforts in the promotion of Maltese literature. The prize-giving ceremony for the 2021 Doreen Micallef National Poetry Contest will be taking place on Friday 5th November at 7pm with the announcement of this year’s winners.

Illuminating readings by the winning poets of the prestigious contest, which received 51 submissions for its third edition, will also be read to the public. 

Poetry and more will also feature in ‘The Door’s Always Ajar’, a tribute to Prof. Oliver Friggieri in the form of a panel discussion taking place at 8:30pm on 5th November. One year since his passing, the poet and academic Prof. Simone Galea will be moderating the discussion with Sara Brincat Friggieri, Joseph Mizzi, Prof. Joe Friggieri and Gabriel Lia, celebrating the life of the influential writer, thinker, scholar and teacher. 

The following evening, on Saturday 6th November at 8:30pm, the National Book Council will be paying tribute to the literary achievements of a household name of contemporary Maltese literature – Trevor Żahra. In celebration of the life and works of the recipient of the 2020 National Book Prize Lifetime Achievement Award, the NBC will be screening a short documentary about Żahra followed by an exchange with Żahra himself.

The Festival is also an opportunity to catch up with literary-themed film productions supported by the NBC over the past years.

Following its debut in local cinemas this summer, on Sunday 7th November at 5:30pm audiences get a chance to attend a free screening of ‘Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi’, introduced by the film’s director Martin Bonnici. The film is an adaptation of the 2021 prize-winning novel of the same name by Alex Vella Gera.

Register your spots online 

Events will only take place in four dedicated halls, each with its own separate entrances and exits; hosting readings, discussions and performances. 

  • Since pre-registration to all events is compulsory this year, consult the online Cultural Programme for information about the registration process for each event. 
  • Admittance to all Festival events, except those for children, shall be exclusively upon presentation of a valid vaccination certificate. 
  • For children’s events and performances, registration is mandatory, but the presentation of a valid vaccination certificate is not required from the children or accompanying adults.

A full programme of fun to discover

This edition of the Festival boasts a record 40 exhibitors participating in the Malta Book Festival – The Bookshop, many of whom are organising numerous events throughout the Festival. Among them are a number of self-published writers who are showcasing their publications and organising events.

The events programme features more than 70 activities aimed at children, families, publishing professionals and the general public.

These include numerous book launches and presentations, meetings with authors, seminars, thematic discussions and film screenings. Festival events are being organised by the National Book Council in collaboration with participating publishers, authors, booksellers, student associations, NGOs and government agencies.

Book launches and presentations remain a staple part of the Festival, with new publications by exhibitors BDL, EDE Books, Faraxa Publishing, Kite Group, Horizons, Merlin Publishers, Midsea Books, Miller and Klabb Kotba Maltin.

Other notable book presentations include six new publications from Teatru Malta, launches by the Malta University Press, readings from winning books of the European Union Prize for Literature organised by the Creative Europe Desk Malta, and a seminar on book production by Gutenberg Press.

The Bookshop opening hours

Visit the Malta Book Festival 2021 – The BookShop edition Facebook page and the NBC website, from where you can also register for events and check event descriptions for details.

The Malta Book Festival – The Bookshop runs between the 3rd and 7th November at the following opening hours: on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am-1pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm; on Saturday from 9:30am-10:30pm, and on Sunday from 8:30am-8pm.

Loads of things will be happening at this year’s Malta Book Festival. Get up and get your friends excited for everything that is going on at MFCC, Ta’ Qali. Parking isn’t a hassle, the rain won’t stop us, and everything is free! You really have no excuses to miss this incredible event. 

Tag a culture vulture! 

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Greta's a creative person who loves to lend a hand to anyone in need. She's also quite quick when it comes to writing ... and talking. You can see what shenanigans she gets up to on her personal instagram @littlegretz or shoot her an email at [email protected]!
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National Book Council

The National Book Council is a public entity that caters for the Maltese book industry with several important services for authors and publishers whilst striving to encourage reading and promote the book as a medium of communication in all its formats.

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