The Malta Book Festival has now established itself as the largest cultural event dedicated to books and reading in Malta. With just over a week to go before the start of this year’s edition, taking place across two distinct areas at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali, here you will find all the information you need to make the best of these five days celebrating the world of books, publishing, and reading.
The events programme features more than 70 activities aimed at children, families, publishing professionals and the general public which include numerous book launches and presentations, meetings with authors, seminars, thematic discussions and film screenings. Festival events are being organised by the National Book Council in collaboration with participating publishers, authors, booksellers, student associations NGOs and government agencies.
COVID-19 Safety measures
The Festival will be taking place across two distinct areas, each dedicated to their particular function – the central Bookshop area and four peripheral halls, which will be hosting a range of events according to the Events Programme.
The Bookshop area gathers all the exhibitors participating in the Festival under one roof, where visitors to the Malta Book Festival bookshop will be able to browse through thousands of titles, including all of the latest local and foreign publications. Visitors to the Bookshop area will be subject to a temperature check at the door and must wear a face mask at all times. The presentation of a valid vaccination certificate or of a negative PCR test is not required. No pre-registration is required to visit the Bookshop area and no events will be held at the exhibitor stands.
Events will only take place in four dedicated halls, each with their own separate entrances and exits, hosting readings, discussions and performances.
- Since pre-registration to all events is a compulsory prerequisite this year, consult the online Cultural Programme for information about the registration process for each event.
- Admittance to all Festival events, except those for children, shall be exclusively upon presentation of a valid vaccination certificate.
- For children’s events and performances registration is mandatory, but the presentation of a valid vaccination certificate is not required from the children or accompanying adults.
Irvine Welsh and other international guests
The headline guest for the 2021 Malta Book Festival is Irvine Welsh, the bestselling author of Trainspotting, which was famously adapted into a cult-classic 1993 film by Danny Boyle. On Wednesday 3 November at 7:30 pm Welsh will be sitting down for an interview with Maltese author of Kapitali (2017), Wayne Flask, followed by 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.
This year readers also get the chance to encounter works of Maltese literature in English, and the publishing professionals behind them, thanks to a number of new publications. On Friday 5 November at 5:30 pm, Peter Owen Publishers are launching Exodus of the Storks, the first English translation of Walid Nabhan’s 2017 European Union Prize for Literature-winning novel L-Eżodu taċ-Ċikonji (2013), translated by Albert Gatt. Adrian Grima will be moderating a discussion with Managing Director at Peter Owen Publishers Nick Kent and Walid Nabhan.
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 English translation of short stories by Loranne Vella. Later on Saturday, at 7:30 pm, Kat Storace (Praspar Press), Nick Kent, Fatimah Abbas (Dar Noon Publishers – Egypt), and Angela Arce (Colmillo Blanco – Peru) will be talking about the appeal of publishing Maltese works of works in their respective domestic markets.
A special programme for young readers and their families
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 book 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 the 2021 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.
Other activities organized by the KNK – celebratory evenings, audiovisual work, and poetry
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. 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 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.
A full programme to discover
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.
Book launches and presentations remain a staple part of the Festival, with new publications by exhibitors BDL, EDE Books, Faraxa Publishing, Kite Group, Horizons, Merlin Publishers, Midsea Books, Miller and Klabb Kotba Maltin. Other notable book presentations include six new publications from Teatru Malta, launches by the Malta University Press, readings from winning books of the European Union Prize for Literature organised by the Creative Europe Desk Malta, and a seminar on book production by Gutenberg Press.
For more information visit the Malta Book Festival 2021 – The BookShop edition Facebook page and the NBC website, from where you can also register for events – check event descriptions for details.
The Malta Book Festival – The BookShop runs between 3-7 November at the following opening hours: on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am-1pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm; on Saturday from 9:30am-10:30pm, and on Sunday from 8:30am-8pm.