The National Book Council (NBC) is nominating the novel Ir-Re Borg for the European Union Prize for Literature on behalf of Malta. The novel, written by Aleks Farrugia and published by SKS Publishers in 2022, is a critically-acclaimed work of political satire which aims its guns squarely at the political duopoly that continues to dominate the Maltese landscape.

The nomination board, chaired by the Executive Director of the NBC Mark Camilleri, along with reader and writer David Aloisio and educator and writer Noel Tanti, unanimously agreed on this choice.

“This novel is a contemporary portrayal of Malta’s idiosyncrasies as the smallest Member State of the European Union. The novel gives voice to the commoner amidst the clamour of super-politicians, who perform politics as a marketing and branding exercise,” Camilleri, Aloisio and Tanti said in a collective statement.

Mikiel Borg, known as ‘Iċ-Chopper’, is a small business owner whose misplaced hopes for a better country embroil him in a social and political whirlwind which rapidly spirals out of control, leading him to butt heads with the bureaucratic institutions threatening to suffocate him. This chain reaction kicks off once Mikiel is inspired to form the ‘The Maltese Monarchical Party’, in a bid to challenge Malta’s heretofore undefeated bipartisan system.

Farrugia’s satirical narrative invites the reader to reflect on how politics is conducted in Malta, and the foibles of local politicians and their disingenuous curation of their own self image. At the same time, however, Mikiel’s human flaws reflect back on the common mortals who surround him; all of whom, in their own way, contribute to the tragicomedy that unfolds.

A representative of the NBC will be present at the Brussels Book Fair in April, to advocate for ‘Ir-Re Borg’ before the EUPL adjudication board.

A total of 13 countries will be participating in the current cycle of nominations. Further to discussions with the participating countries — Malta included — a winning author will be selected along with five runners-up.

‘Ir-Re Borg’ will be on sale at the upcoming edition of the Campus Book Festival, taking place between 20 and 22 March at the University of Malta quadrangle. The novel can also be purchased online from SKS Publishers.

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