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Malta Book Festival 2019: events and authors

The biggest book celebration in country’s cultural calendar, the Malta Book Festival, will be opening with a literary conference relating to the literary genres of sci-fi and fantasy under the title of ‘Strange New Worlds: a conference on science fiction and fantasy literature’. It will be taking place on Wednesday 6 November at 7 pm at the Activity Area, Sacra Infermeria (MCC). The participants will be Loranne Vella, the Brussels-based Maltese writer and winner of the 2018 National Book Prize with Rokit (Merlin Publishers); Malta-born and UK-based author John Courtenay Grimwood; American novelist Kali Wallace; and Irish writer Dave Rudden.

The discussion will be moderated by Mark Anthony Fenech, the author of Maltese language sci-fi epic It-Tawmaturgu (2017, Horizons), and will address the significance and the role of genre literature. The discussion will also touch upon the perception of science-fiction in the literary world and the genre’s potential at bringing its readers to see the world differently. Members of the audience will have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion through questions and remarks.

As in previous years, guest authors participating in the conference will also be appearing in other activities during the Festival, including an author event dedicated to each of them on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 in the afternoon. One such event will be dedicated to the creative life and works of Loranne Vella, who will be interviewed by award-winning author Walid Nabhan on how winning the National Book Prize has changed her writing career, and on the impact on Maltese literature of publishing a sci-fi dystopian book like Rokit. Kali Wallace will be interviewed by Teodor Reljić and will discuss her writers’ output, which spans from Young Adult cult favourites Shallow Graves, The Memory Trees and City of Islands, to her more recent work Salvation Day, also her debut novel for adults. Jonathan Courtenay Grimwood will be interviewed about his very prolific output by Maltese artist and fervent reader John Grech. Grimwood is proficient in very different genres including sci-fi novels and spy thrillers; he has written under three different names, and will be appearing under all three hats at the festival. Malta Today journalist David Hudson will be interviewing Irish author and storyteller Dave Rudden, the science-fiction author of the best-selling Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy and a book of Doctor Who short stories for the BBC. All the discussions will be followed by Q&A and book-signing sessions with members of the audience.

The topic of literary translation will once again feature in this year’s edition of the Malta Book Festival with a hands-on translation seminar set up in collaboration with Prof. Clare Vassallo (Department of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies) for the morning of Friday 8 November. The seminar will address the phenomenon of code-switching, particularly as it appears in Alex Vella Gera’s Is-Sriep Reġgħu saru Valenużi (Merlin Publishers), and the strategies translators employ to deal with it.

Friday is poetry day at the Malta Book Festival and this year we are celebrating poetry with the award-winning ceremony of the newly-launched Doreen Micallef National Poetry Contest, an opportunity for budding and more established writers to evaluate their own abilities and the hallmarks of a good poem in Maltese. The Contest is celebrating Doreen Micallef, one of the most distinctive voices of her generation, a voice that was intimate, confessional and female.

The winning project of the Malta Literary Short Film Contest 2019 was ‘Ġulina’, a proposal by the film company Hereonin to adapt a short story of the same title by Alfred Sant into film. The film, which is currently in its production phase, will have its premiere screening during the Festival as part of an event that will also feature a discussion about film adaptation with the director, Peter Sant, and the author. This event will be held on Saturday 9 November.

On Sunday evening an event will be dedicated to Lillian Sciberras, the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Book Prize. There will be a panel discussion, select ted readings and the screening of a film featuring an interview with Lillian on her career as a librarian and as a writer.

The full programme of events with all the activities will be issued in the next few weeks. In the meantime, members of the public are urged to follow the Council’s website or FB page for more updates and details of the events.