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A celebration of book culture

Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness

The programme of events for the 2016 Malta Book Festival reveals the profound transformation this festival has undergone in the past few years. A dynamic and varied celebration of the book culture certainly awaits all bookworms and book lovers, for whom this unique event in the cultural calendar of the country is a major highlight of the year.

It has recently become customary for the festival to feature a number of special guests, both foreign and local. In particular, starting from last year, the winner of the previous year’s Lifetime Achievement Award is honoured with an event dedicated to their life and work.

This year the honour falls on poetess Maria Grech Ganado, who will meet the public on November 11 for an interview with Charles Calleja. Selected readings of her poetry will also be narrated.

The winners of the Amante Bountempo Poetry contest will also be announced on November 11 in an event organised by the NBC in collaboration with the Maltese Poets Association.

The festival opens on November 9 with a conference on literature and totalitarianism, chaired by journalist Jurgen Balzan. Four renowned guest speakers will be present at the conference – Maltese writer and poet Immanuel Mifsud, British writer, academic and poet Patrick McGuinness, Bulgarian satirist Alek Popov and Basma Abdel Aziz, the Egyptian author and human rights activist, whose novel The Queue has elicited waves of raving reviews worldwide.

On November 10, visitors will have a chance to meet McGuinness in person as he will be talking to James Corby of Malta University about his first novel, The Last Hundred Days, an eyewitness account of the last days of the Ceausescu regime in communist Romania.

Members of the audience will have the chance to ask the author questions about his work and even to get hold of a signed copy of his book. Later in the evening, it will be the turn of Basma Abdel Aziz to meet the public as she will be interviewed by Maltese-Palestinian writer Walid Nahban. Basma will be talking not only about her immensely popular novel, The Queue, but also about her work as a human rights activist and an eyewitness of the Arab Spring in Egypt.

Maria Grech GanadoMaria Grech Ganado

Author Patrick McGuinness will talk about his first novel, The Last Hundred Days, an eyewitness account of the last days of the Ceausescu regime in communist Romania

Alek Popov will meet the public on November 10 to talk with Teodor Reljic about his work Mission: London and the sociopolitical issues that concern him. Scenes from the film adaptation of his book will be shown during the interview.

And talking of film adaptation, also on November 10, this year’s winner of the NBC PBS Short Film Contest, Ryan Gatt, who adapted Walid Nabhan’s short story Il-Kompliċi from the collection of short stories Lura d-dar u ġrajjiet oħra li ma ġrawx, will meet the public after a screening of the film in order to engage, along with the writer Walid Nahban in a discussion on film adaptation.

Another very important conference will take place also on November 10. It is an international one-day conference, titled Books and Literacy: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, in which both local and foreign speakers will engage in a discussion on the relationship between books and literacy in the context of the evolution of publishing and which members of the public are very strongly urged to attend, especially people who work in education and parents. The relevance for librarians and people involved in publishing is self evident.

The book launch of Malta Hanina, a translation of French author Daniel Rondeau’s book by Toni Aquilina is also scheduled for November 10. Both author and translator will be present at the launch. Later in the evening, there will be a reception in honour of the author and the translator at the Faraxa Publisher’s stand, where visitors can get a copy of the book and have it signed.

Alek PopovAlek Popov

A treat to all readers and students of Spanish in the local community will be held on November 11. It will feature Don Quixote in Literature and Culture, which the NBC has organised in collaboration with the Department of Spanish and Latin-American Studies (UOM) and the Embassy of Spain in Malta together with SKS. The event is meant to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of the great writer.

Kotba Calleja end their five-day book-binding exhibition on November 11 with a workshop on book-binding for children (aged 8 to 10). There will be many other activities for children on November 11 – tracing and colouring activities inspired by Faraxa characters, a fun rhyming activity Ġewż, lewż, qastan, tin organised by Għaqda tal-Malti, and Lupettin, an activity for children led by Claire Azzopardi at the Merlin Publishers’ stand.

The Malta Book Festival will take place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, between November 9 and 13 and is organised by the National Book Council. For more information visit www.ktieb.org.mt.

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