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Immanuel Mifsud takes 2011 EU literature prize award

Autobiographical novel on fatherhood lands Immanuel Mifsud EU literature prize for Malta.

12 October 2011, 12:00am
Novelist Immanuel Mifsud has been crowned one of the winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature, for his book Fl-Isem tal-MIssier (u tal-Iben).

The prize recognises the best new or emerging authors in the EU, were announced today at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The winners are: Kalin Terziyski (Bulgaria), Tomáš Zmeškal (Czech Republic), Kostas Hatziantoniou (Greece), Ófeigur Sigurðsson (Iceland), Inga Zolude (Latvia) Iren Nigg (Liechtenstein), Immanuel Mifsud (Malta), Andrej Nikolaidis (Montenegro), Rodaan Al Galidi (Netherlands), Jelena Lengold (Serbia), Ciler Ilhan (Turkey), and Adam Foulds (United Kingdom). See below for details of the winning works.

Each winner gets €5,000 and the opportunity to have their book translated into other languages to boost its cross-border appeal.

"The book is autobiographical," Mifsud had told Alex Vella Gregory in an interview. "The title, In the Name of the Father (and of the Son) is not merely a poetic figure of speech. I feel it is a major departure from all that I have written before. Although it is ostensibly a series of memoirs about his father, the book goes further than that. Very often, the distinction between prose and poetry is blurred, creating a dreamy atmosphere where recollection and reflection unite."

Mifsud says the two key events inspring him to write this book was the discovery of his father's wartime diaries and the birth of his son. "When you become a father, you face a lot of issues, including your own relationship with your father."

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, congratulated the exceptional winners of this year's prize. "I hope that they will make use our support for 'literary translation' so that that as many readers as possible can enjoy their books, in as many languages as possible. I would also like to pay tribute to Europe's resilient book publishing industry which is the world  leader in its field, employing 135 000 people and contributing €23 billion a year to EU GDP," she said.

The European Union Prize for Literature is organised by the European Commission, the European Booksellers' Federation, European Writers' Council and the Federation of European Publishers. The competition is open to the 36 countries involved in the EU Culture Programme (27 Member States, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey). Each year, national juries in 12 of the participating countries nominate the winner authors, so that all countries in the programme are represented over a three-year period.

Nina Hanina
I'll be buying this book well done