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Panel to discuss youth culture at Summer Book Festival

The Summer Book Festival in Gozo will open on 14 July, featuring a panel discussion on youth culture and literature

6 July 2017, 11:37am
Publishers and writers will engage in a conversation on literature and young readers
Publishers and writers will engage in a conversation on literature and young readers
The Summer Book Festival in Gozo will open on 14 July, featuring a panel discussion on youth culture and literature, set up by the National Book Council.

Publishers and writers will engage in a conversation on literature and young readers, touching upon a good number of topics but focusing on youth literacy, the problems of addressing youth issues without being patronising, and the challenge of using cultural referents that are prone to date quickly.

YA books are for and about teenagers and pre-teens, aged 12 to 18. Many YA authors consciously follow golden rules and successful strategies for writing for teenagers. These include getting the point of view right, making sure the character’s age suits the chosen audience, figuring out the voice, which would then dictate the language to use, not shying away from touchy subjects, not getting preachy and writing hopeful endings.

But what is the difference between adult and YA literature in terms of the challenges authors face when writing? And why did they write a YA novel in the first place? Is writing used to teach or does it serve as a form of escapism (both the author’s and reader’s)? Some Maltese YA novelists are teachers: how difficult is it to keep a distance between literature as leisure and literature aimed at lecturing and teaching morals?

Are believable characters and compelling plots crucial and is their credibility in any way compromised by the use of language and cultural referents that can become outdated?  Do these limitations, inherent in language, diminish the universal appeal of a work of literature?

For those writers who are not very tech-savvy, how challenging is writing about their characters’ use of modern technology? How can writers bridge this aspect of narrative distance, that is, how can they manage to speak tech without sounding fake? Also, with the proliferation of social networks of all kinds, there is a lot of competition for young people’s attention. As time goes by books have to work increasingly hard to pull away teens from their mobile gadgets. What can the writer do to entice young adults to choose to read their book and, moreover, to keep them interested in the story until the end?

These and more topics will be discussed by Tony Aquilina, Clare Azzopardi, Roberta Bajada, Simon Bartolo, Antoinette Borg, Leanne Ellul, Stephen Lughermo, Rita Saliba, Matthew Schembri, Sarah Springham, Loranne Vella and representatives of local publishers.

Aspiring writers, established writers, students, parents and all members of the public are invited to participate in the discussion, which will start at 4:30pm.

The festival will be held at the Science Hall, Sir M. A. Refalo Sixth Form, Rabat, Gozo.

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