The Literary Contest of Novels for Youth is an annual contest organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the National Book Council.

The purpose of this contest is to select, reward and publish Maltese novels that are written specifically for young people, and that explore themes related to adolescence and the typical situations young people in this stage of their lives are likely to encounter. The organisers aim to gradually increase the availability of Maltese literature in this genre, thus sparking young people’s interest and motivation to read books written in Maltese.

Furthermore, the organisers aspire at promoting excellence by awarding works of a high literary content. Additional rationales behind this competition include raising awareness about youth literature and for authors to submit original novels for youth which are innovative and non-didactic or moralising in nature. As a result, young people will benefit from an increase in the available number of books targeted for their age group, which will stimulate them to embark on new and exciting reading experiences.

The National Book Council appoints three adjudicators who select the winning entry/entries according to a set of criteria. There are four criteria in all – development of plot and characters, originality, language and quality. The winner is given a commemorative trophy and certificate, and the sum of €1,000. The winner will subsequently be asked to sign a contract, in which he or she will be offered funding (€2,000) for the publication of her work with a local publisher of their choice.

All interested authors are invited to submit original texts of between 20,000–25,000 words aimed at young adults of 13–18 years of age. Applicants can be individuals or groups and the manuscripts have to be submitted under a nom de plume. All applicants must be at least 20 years old. The work must be original, in the Maltese language and never been published before, either whole or in parts.

Applications are open as from 8 January 2020, and they must reach Aġenzija Żgħażagħ by noon on 7 September 2020.