Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival explores the recession

The island’s most dynamic literary festival will kick off on August 30 this year and feature readings by local and international writers accompanied by music from Brikkuni and Renzo Spiteri.

Syrian poet and translator Golan Haji will be one of the 14 writers participating in the festival next week.
Syrian poet and translator Golan Haji will be one of the 14 writers participating in the festival next week.

Fourteen writers from eight Mediterranean countries and Maltese musicians Brikkuni and Renzo Spiteri will perform at the seventh annual Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival on Thursday, 30 and Friday 31 August and Saturday, 1 September at the Msida Bastion Historic Garden in Floriana, between the Ospizio and the Floriana Central Public Library.

Readings - which are meant for a mature audience - start at 20:00 and entrance is free.

Drinks and freshly cooked food made from both locally grown and fair traded products will be on sale during the festival.

There will also be a well-stocked book stand selling Maltese literature and works by this year's guest writers.

As with previous edition of this annual festival, the short stories and poems will be read mainly in Maltese and English, but also in the native languages of the various writers.

The interviews will be in English. Some of the best-known names from the new generation of Maltese writers, from Clare Azzopardi to Immanuel Mifsud, will all also be on stage to read their translations of the works by the foreign writers.

 This year's edition will focus on the economic crisis in Europe and the theme is 'Dieta kontra l-Krizi' or Crisis Fare, but the festival will also continue to follow developments in Mediterranean countries, most notably Syria, Morocco, Libya, and the Occupied Palestinian territories.

The Festival will present an exciting array of unique voices, literary genres and languages, music by Brikkuni (on Thursday and Friday) and Renzo Spiteri (on Saturday), and short video clips about the festival and the socio-economic crisis by the young director Martin Bonnici.

Fourteen writers, three nights  

The writers reading on Thursday, 30 August are the innovative Maltese poet and performer Glen Calleja; the Slovenian award-winning prose writer and translator Suzana Tratnik; the Libyan author, blogger, activist and medical doctor  Ghazi Gheblawi; the Spanish, US-born poet Lawrence Schimel, who has published over 100 books as author or anthologist in many different genres; and Catalan novelist Marina Espasa, who is also a philologist, screenwriter, cultural journalist and translator.

Friday, 31 August will feature the intense poetry of the Moroccan poet Murad Shubert, translated into Maltese by Walid Nabhan; the poetry of the Slovenian poet, novelist, translator and editor Brane Mozetič, who was awarded the City of Ljubljana Poetry Prize and the European Poetry Prize-Falgwe; the British Palestinian writer of fiction based in London, Selma Dabbagh, whose first novel, Out of It, was published by Bloomsbury in December 2011 to widespread acclaim; well-known Syrian poet and translator with a postgraduate degree in pathology, Golan Haji; and the award-winning Greek poet and prose writer Kallia Papadaki, a professional screen writer of feature-length films, who will also be interviewed by sociologist Anna Zammit about her work and the economic crisis. Kallia Papadaki studied economics in the United States at Bard College and Brandeis University.

The writers performing on Saturday, 1 September are the Italian prose writer, editor and expert on literature in the Mediterranean, Costanza Ferrini; the late Italian poet and cultural activist Yzu, whose work will be read by Federica Riviello; the Maltese poet and prose writer Claudia Gauci, whose first collection of poetry will be published in October; and the well-known Palestinian writer Suad Amiry, who will perform her work and take part in a discussion with Selma Dabbagh by Karsten Xuereb.

Suad Amiry has been living in Ramallah since 1981 and is the author, amongst others, of two hugely successful autobiographical accounts. Sharon and My Mother-in-Law (Granta, UK, 2005) was shortlisted for the Lettre Ulysses Award for Reportage and awarded the prestigious 2004 Viareggio Prize, and has been translated into 17 languages.

Her most recent book Nothing to Lose But Your Life: An 18-Hour Journey With Murad, an exciting account of a grueling journey but also a lamentation for lost land and for simpler, more peaceful times was published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation in 2010.

Festival and workshop 

As in previous years, the Festival coincides with the seventh annual Malta LAF Literary Translation Workshop, led by Inizjamed within the context of Literature Across Frontiers, during which the participating writers translate each other's works.

The Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival is organised by Inizjamed and Literature Across Frontiers and supported by the EU Culture programme, Malta Arts Fund, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Middlesea Insurance plc, The British Council, ŠKUC, JAK (Slovenian Book Agency), Institut Ramon Llull, and the European Commission Representation in Malta.

More information about the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival, Inizjamed and Literature Across Frontiers is available at