Pierre Mejlak takes EU literature prize

Marking the second time a Maltese author has won the award - after Immanuel Mifsud in 2011 - Gozo-born author Pierre J. Mejlak has won the European Union Prize for Literature.

Pierre J. Mejlak. Photo by Pawel Herzog
Pierre J. Mejlak. Photo by Pawel Herzog

Novelist and short story writer Pierre J. Meljak has won this year's European Union Prize for Literature, for his 2011 short story collection 'Dak li l-lejl ihallik tghid'. 

The award was announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair earlier this morning by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou.

This marks the second time that a Maltese writer has taken home the prize, with Immanuel Mifsud securing the honour in 2011 on the strength of his fatherood-and-wartime novella 'Fl-Isem tal-Missier (u tal-Iben)'.

'Lejl' is Mejlak's second short story collection after 'Qed Nistenniek Niezla Max-Xita' (2009), and sets out deal with themes of "nostalgia, lies, loneliness and love". A story from the collection, 'Nixtieq Nghajjat lil Samirah', won the Sea of Words European Short Story Award in 2009.  

This year the laureates for the EU Literature Prize come from 13 countries: Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Montenegro, Serbia, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

“The European Union Prize for Literature is the only international prize of its kind: it celebrates the best new talents in European fiction and enables the public to discover emerging authors from different countries,” Vassiliou said.

“The Prize is also an opportunity to highlight the fact that funding is available through the EU's Creative Europe programme to support the translation of new literature so that it reaches new audiences across frontiers.”

Read more: The words that bind us - Pierre J. Mejlak interviewed