Book Festival prepares to make a ‘the French connection’

National Book Council strives to make Malta ‘less insular’ with international collaboration at Book Festival.

Shot from last year's edition of the Book Festival. Photo by Charles Calleja
Shot from last year's edition of the Book Festival. Photo by Charles Calleja

Last year a French Bookshop participated at the National Book Festival for the first time, thanks to the French Embassy in Malta. This year round, the bookshop will be present once again and a major French author, Pierre Assouline, will be brought over thanks to the National Book Council and the French Embassy.

National Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri said that such a collaboration is essential to ensure that the local literary scenario does not become “insular”.

“Our financial support structures prioritise local publishers and local authors, but foreign influence is essential in a small and insular society. We can’t mature and develop in cultural and intellectual terms if we don’t absorb foreign influences,” Camilleri said. 

According to Camilleri, the participating bookstore, La Boccherie, was chosen by the French Embassy and is supported by the Embassy itself “since they consider the initiative as a way to spread French culture in foreign countries”.

“We are very happy with their choice since the bookstore has a mix of contemporary titles and classics,” Camilleri added.

Increased foreign participation in fact distinguishes this edition of the Festival from the previous year.

Thanks to the Italian Cultural Institute, Editore Morrone will be present at the Festival representing his publishing house and 10 other publishers along with a contingent of authors who will be delivering talks.

Thanks to Bookmark and the Department of Spanish we will be having a lecturer from the Sociedad General Espanola de Libreria who will be delivering lectures to Spanish students and the general public. Horizons will also be bringing over two foreign authors of whose books have been translated in Malta.

“The most important benefit of foreign participation is conceptual – that is, to bring over foreign cultural influences in a small and insular society. And the second benefit is more practical: when the local market gets into contact with these foreign participants, potential is created. Contacts and relationships can be built which can eventually help local literature move across borders,” Camilleri said.

“We would like to create a situation in which local publishers and authors would have greater access to foreign markets, but it is also up to the publishers and authors to make an effort to exploit these situations. This is not easy of course and won't be done overnight because relationships are built across a period of years,” he added.

Foreign participants at the National Book Festival

Saturday November 15

11:00 – Temi Żammit Hall. The Embassy of France along with the National Book Council invites you to meet Pierre Assouline – journalist, writer and member of the Académie Goncourt for a public interview by Anthony Aquilina.

12:30 – Common Area. Presentation for students of Spanish entitled ‘Spanish culture’ by Carlos Barroso García – Coordinator of Spanish Department and representative from Sociedad General Espanola de Libreria (SGEL).

18:00 – Common Area. ‘Why learn Spanish / The importance of Spanish in the 21st century’ with Carlos Barroso García - Coordinator of Spanish Department and representative from Sociedad General Espanola de Libreria (SGEL).

18:30 – Temi Żammit Hall. Horizons invites you to two book launches: ‘The Blonde Formula’ a translation into English by Becky d’Ugo of Federica Brunini’s ‘La Matematica delle Bionde’ and   ‘Ostaġġ tat-Tielet Reich’ a translation into Maltese of Fey von Hassell’s acclaimed ‘A Mother’s War’ by Tony C. Cutajar. Federica Brunini and Almuth von Hassell will be present for the occasion.

The National Book Festival will be taking place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, from November 12-16.

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