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New trends and surprises in the National Book Prize shortlist 2018

The 2018 shortlist for the National Book Prize bears evidence of changes in trends that are worth taking note of, particularly in the category of ‘Novels in Maltese and English’. Out of a total of 8 selected finalists, three belong to the sci-fi genre, a relatively under-represented genre in the local literary scene: Rokit by Loranne Vella, It-Taàr by John A. Bonello and It-Tawmaturgu by Mark Anthony Fenech. The latter is the most explicity sci-fi, making use of innovative language to render scientific terms in Maltese.

Another interesting feature concerns the number of women authors whose books were shortlisted in the novel category: Loranne Vella, Lou Drofenik and Nadia Mifsud. This picks up from last year where for the first time in the history of the National Book Prize, three women – Lou Drofenik, Lillian Sciberras and Lara Calleja – were selected as finalists.

Another trend that has been observed over the last few editions of the festival, and has been endorsed by this year’s results, is the appearance of new names in the novel category shortlist. This year there has been a further surprise in that two of the shortlisted titles are the debut novels of well-known local poets: Gioele Galea and Nadia Mifsud. Another debut novel in the shortlist is Kapitali by blogger and freelance journalist Wayne Flask.

The National Book Council reminds members of the public that the shortlist is a reliable guide to the best quality literature published in 2017. All the books will be available for sale at the stands of the publishers and booksellers at the Malta Book Festival 2018.