The Novels for Youth Literary Contest 2024 has been launched, and the winning manuscript for the 2023 edition has been announced. Leanne Ellul secured the victory with her manuscript ‘be;n il-kmiem’. This contest is organized by the National Book Council (NBC) in collaboration with Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.

The announcement of the winning entry took place during a special ceremony attended by the Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Innovation, and Research, Hon. Clifton Grima, the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport, Research, and Innovation, Hon. Keith Azzopardi Tanti, and the shadow spokesperson for Education, Hon. Justin Schembri.

In extending congratulations to both the winners and all participants, Minister Clifton Grima emphasized that this competition serves as yet another avenue for fostering the growth of our nation’s literary landscape. Wrapping up his remarks, he underscored, “Our country’s language is inherently rich, and we must persist in spearheading initiatives that enhance the vitality of the Maltese language. Our ongoing efforts should ensure that the Maltese, spanning across generations, increasingly acknowledge and cherish the inherent beauty of our language, a paramount symbol of our identity.”

Parliamentary Secretary Keith Azzopardi Tanti emphasized the vital role of young people in safeguarding the Maltese language through literature. He highlighted the growing accessibility of Maltese literature for the youth, thanks to the collaboration between the National Book Council and the Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. This partnership not only expands the options for young readers but also provides a platform for local authors to express themselves through writing and publishing. Azzopardi Tanti encouraged the youth to actively contribute to the preservation of the Maltese language by engaging with and promoting their own literary works.

The adjudicators commented on the winning manuscript, stating that, “there is a profound depth of thought beneath the surface of this novel. The writer demonstrates a strong command of Maltese and draws from a wealth of experience. Addressing contemporary themes in an almost poetic and consistently fresh manner, the work stands as a complete and highly memorable literary achievement.”

Ellul received a trophy, a certificate, and a monetary prize of €1,000. Additionally, she was granted a €2,000 subsidy to support the publication of her novel, contingent upon signing a contract with her chosen publisher.

The organizers expressed their gratitude to this year’s jury — comprising Audrey Friggieri, David Aloisio, and Roberta Bajada. The winning manuscript was selected from a pool of five submissions, evaluated based on established criteria such as plot and character development, originality, language, and overall quality.

During the ceremony, the NBC and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ officially confirmed the extension of their collaboration for the 2024 edition of the contest. Submissions will be accepted from January 23 to August 30 (noon).

Application forms, competition criteria, and guidelines will be available on the NBC and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ websites starting from the submission opening date.

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