As preparations for the Malta Book Festival are underway, the National Book Council would like to announce the first details of its official programme of events. As always the programme of events will feature conferences on themes of literary and sociopolitical importance, book and author presentations, book launches, fun activities for children, readings and much more.
The Malta Book Festival will take place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) in Valletta from 8 till 12 November and will be open to the public morning and evenings, including all day on both Saturday and Sunday. Over these five days, members of the public will be invited to visit the grand hall of the historic hospital of the Knights of St John to be treated to the biggest and most popular book event in the cultural calendar of the island. There they will find numerous stands representing both local and foreign publishers, bookshops, distributors and NGOs. Most of these participants have also been preparing events with literary themes, including presentations of new publications and their authors, dramatic performances and discussions.
The aims of the Book Festival are to promote reading and literacy, promoting books as a medium of learning and enjoyment, engaging the public in intelligent discussion with writers and experts in various areas of study and academic interest, creating fun activities for both the young and the old, and giving a space for publishers and other cultural agents to present their work to the public.
The Festival will be inaugurated on Tuesday 7 with the Terramaxka National Book Prize for Children’s Books. On Wednesday 8, the Festival will open with a conference on the Definition of Truth in Fiction and Non-Fiction which will offer the adult public the chance to engage with five brilliant contemporary minds who are among this year’s special guests: Rosie Goldsmith, the renowned BBC journalist, the US born and UK raised novelist and poet Ros Barber, French novelist Gilbert Sinoué, Kuwaiti poet Shahd Al Shammari and local author Alex Vella Gera. Another special guest for this year is Ahmad Said Abdel Moneim, a renowned Arab publisher who will be giving a talk on subversive literature in the Arab world.
As is now customary, there will be an event to honour last year’s winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Author, poet and playwright Mario Azzopardi was awarded the 2016 prize for his extensive contribution to local literature and culture not just as a writer but also for his work in the fields of cultural journalism and literary criticism. Azzopardi was one of the founders of the Moviment Qawmien Letterarju, a revolutionary literary movement that played a crucial role in motivating Maltese authors to move away from parochialism and traditional folkloristic themes to treat topics of current social relevance. The event will feature a short film on Azzopardi, an interview with the personality and readings of excerpts from some of his important works. This event will take place on Friday, which will be the Festival’s Poetry Day.
Also on Friday, NBC will be organising a second event in collaboration with the Maltese Poets’ Association, where apart from selected readings, the winners of the Mons. Amante Buontempo Poetry Contest 2017 will be announced. Publishers such as Horizons will also be setting up events related to poetry with meetings with poets and more readings.
As usual, the festival will also include a thematic exhibition, to be housed within the Perello’s Suite of the Mediterranean Conference Centre. An art exhibition in different media – paintings, photography, digital art – inspired by works of Maltese literature will be open to the public for the entire duration of the Festival and the works will be on sale.
Students will be attending the Festival in weekday mornings, that is on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and activities such as dramatic performances based on the winning titles of this year’s Terramaxka Book Prize will be prepared for them. In addition, there will be actors dressed up as well-known literary figures who will interact with the young visitors as they guide them through the stands and different features of the festival. A 3-euro voucher will be given to every student to encourage them to buy a book for themselves.
Saturday evening closes off with a highlight event: the short film premiere in Temi Zammit Hall at MCC. This year’s winner of the NBC PBS Short Film Contest is the company Mitħolma of Charles Stroud, who will be adapting Joe Friggieri’s short story Dritt Għall-Punt from the collection of short stories Nismagħhom Jgħidu (Kite Group, 2016). The director and the renowned author of story will be present at the event and they will engage the public in a discussion on film adaptation.
In addition to the above, all the special guests to the Festival, including local author Alex Vella Gera, will be the focus of events dedicated to their work. Rosie Goldsmith will also be leading a workshop on journalism on Wednesday, which should be of immense interest to both journalists and members of the public.
The public is strongly urged to follow the NBC website and facebook on more updates on the Festival. In the meantime, save the dates and make sure you do not miss on this great opprtunity to take part in the biggest book celebration in Malta and Gozo.
You can download the high res image of the poster here.