This year the Malta Book Festival opens with a highly anticipated event – a conference on Literature and Totalitarianism. Basma Abdel Aziz, Patrick McGuinness, Alek Popov and Immanuel Mifsud are among the special guests invited to engage in a conversation with Jurgen Balzan (journalist) on how literature typically responds to systems of governance that seek to stifle all forms of individual expression in the social sphere, particularly when language itself becomes the target of oppression.
Basma Abdel Aziz, the Egyptian author of the dystopian novel The Queue, is also a human rights activist and works as a psychologist counselling victims of police and army torture. As an eyewitness of both the Arab Spring and its disappointing and bitter aftermath, her participation will ensure the discussion remains in the realm of actual and current scenarios.
Patrick McGuinness, on the other hand, will bring in a historical persceptive. He is the author of The Last Hundred Days, a chillingly realistic account of the deaththroes of one of the worst regimes in East Europe before the fall of the Soviet Union. It should be noted that the author is himself an eyewitness of the events described in the book.
Set in the same geopolitical realities but adopting a distinctly satirical tone, Alek Popov’s two novels, Mission:London and The Black Box, look through the historical perspective to to glimpse at a present which seems to ensue a even more dangerous form of totalitarianism – that of neoliberalist capitalism.
Finally, in order to bring in our history into the picture, author and poet Immanuel Mifsud will talk about the times of trouble in Maltese society, specifically the 80s, and how these times brought Maltese society very close to the kind of turmoil and sectarian tension normally associated with totalitarianism.
The general public is invited to join us in Temi Zammit Hall, MCC Valletta on Wednesday 9th November at 19:00.
For more info about the Festival five-day cultural programme of events: