The National Book Council (NBC)has announced it’s events programme for the 2021 Malta Book Festival, taking place between Wednesday 3 and Sunday 7 November at the Malta Fairs & Conventions Center (MFCC), Ta’ Qali, and this year comprising of a bookshop area and ancillary separated event areas.
Spread over five days, the entire programme contains more than 70 events including book launches and presentations, meetings with local and international guest authors, seminars, panel discussions, film screenings and events dedicated to students, some of which will be also streaming online. The Festival programme has been set up by the National Book Council in collaboration with a number of partners such as publishers, authors, booksellers, student organisations and public agencies participating in the Festival.
While visits to Bookshop retail area will not be subject to pre-registration or vaccination requirements, admittance to all Festival events shall be exclusively on presentation of a valid vaccination certificate. Children events are an exception: while subject to pre-registration, they are not subject to vaccination or PCR test requirements.
Pre-registration for all Malta Book Festival events will be mandatory. Visit the Events Programme online for more information on the registration process.
International guest: Irvine Welsh
The headline guest for the 2021 Malta Book Festival – The Bookshop is none other than the celebrated author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh. On Wednesday 3 November at 7:30 pm, the master author of dark, gritty, Scottish culture novels will be sitting down for an interview discussing his life and works with the uninhibited Maltese author of political satire, Wayne Flask, after which Welsh will be available for 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 exchange 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.
A specially-curated programme for young readers and teens
On weekday mornings the Festival will be reaching students in their classrooms with an interactive video quiz populated with stories, authors and characters from celebrated works of children’s literature. The quiz show ‘Books are Where the Magic Happens’ is suitable for primary and secondary students and streams to registered schools on weekdays at 09:30 am. Every student registered by their school will also be benefitting from a €5 voucher redeemable from each Bookshop Exhibitor during the Festival or from their online stores.
On each evening during 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 Terramaxka Prize winning works. The live theatrical show will run daily at 6:30 pm on weekdays, and at 4:30 pm 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.
More from the NBC and its partners – tributes, poetry readings, translations and screenings
In collaboration with a number of its local and international partners, the NBC is organising a number of events showcasing its efforts in the promotion of Maltese literature.
On Friday 5 November at 5:30 pm, UK publishing house Peter Owen Publishers will be launching The Exodus of the Storks, the first English translation of Walid Nabhan’s L-Eżodu taċ-Ċikonji (2013). Managing Director at Peter Owen Publishers Nick Kent will be presenting Albert Gatt’s translation of the 2017 European Union Prize for Literature winning novel together with the author, in a discussion moderated by Prof. Adrian Grima.
The following day, on Saturday 6 November at 5:00 pm, London-based Praspar Press will be presenting two new publications of Maltese literature in English and English translation: Scintillas: New Maltese Writing – an anthology of contemporary Maltese fiction, poetry and essays; and What Will it Take for Me to Leave, the upcoming translation of short stories by Loranne Vella. Later in the evening, at 7:30 pm, three foreign publishers – Nick Kent (Peter Owen – UK), Kat Storace and Jen Calleja (Praspar Press – UK), Fatimah Abbas (Dar Noon Publishing – Egypt), and Angela Arce (Colmillo Blanco – Peru) – get together in ‘Maltese Literature Across Continents’ to talk about the appeal of Maltese literature and its reception beyond Malta’s shores.
The prize giving ceremony for the 2021 Doreen Micallef National Poetry Contest will be taking place on Friday 5 November at 7 pm with the announcement of this year’s winners and illuminating readings by the winning poets of the prestigious contest, which received 51 submissions for its third edition.
Poetry and more will undoubtedly also feature in The Door’s Always Ajar’, a tribute to Prof. Oliver Friggieri in the form of a panel discussion taking place at 8:30 pm on 5 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 6 November at 8:30 pm, 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 7 November at 5:30 pm 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.
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 populating the Festival programme. Among them are a number of self-published writers who are showcasing their publications and organising events.