Loranne Vella takes national book prize for Rokit

Fantasy novel and eco-fiction is winner of overall book category for National Book Prize 2018

Loranne Vella
Loranne Vella

Author Loranne Vella has won the Maltese national book prize with her fantasy novel Rokit, published by Merlin Publishers.

The novel explores multiple themes, among them the fragmentation of Europe as Petrel leaves Croatia to explore his grandmother’s Maltese roots, to find Malta under siege by the effects of global warming.

Antoine Cassar won the first prize in poetry with his collection Erbgħin jum (EDE Books). No winners were there in the short stories, drama and translation categories as none of the entries had been shortlisted.

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The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on librarian Lillian Sciberras, who was present to receive the prize from the Prime Minister at the end of the ceremony, while the Best Emerging Author Award went to Antoinette Borg.

The winning title in the ‘General research’ category was Curtain Up! by Paul Xuereb, published by Midsea Books, while Sal-quċċata tal-Everest by Marco Cremona and Glen Calleja (Merlin Publishers) and ‘Kollni kemm jien għalikom’: Il-ħajja mqanqla ta’ Mikiel Gonzi u żminjietna (1885-1984) by Louis Cilia (Klabb Kotba Maltin) both won in the ‘Biographical and historiographic research’ category. Last but not least, A Visual Guide to the Fortifications of Malta by Stephen C. Spiteri and published by BDL won the prize for ‘Best book production’.

The award-giving ceremony of the 2018 edition of the National Book Prize was held at Auberge de Castille on Friday.


Novels in Maltese and English: Loranne Vella, Rokit

Poetry in Maltese and English: Antoine Cassar, Erbgħin Jum

General Research: Paul Xuereb, Curtain Up!

Bibliograhical and Historiographical Research: Louis Cilia, ‘Kollni Kemm Jien Għalikom’: Il-Ħajja Mqanqla ta’ Mikiel Gonzi u Żminijietna (1885-1984), and Marco Cremona & Glen Calleja, Sal-Quċċata tal-Everest

Best Book Production: Book Distributors Limited (BDL), A Visual Guide To The Fortifications Of Malta

Best Emerging Author: Antoinette Borg

Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Literature: Lillian Sciberras

In his speech, National Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri remarked that in 2013, about 500 books were published, whilst this year the amount totalled about 1,000.

“Although the local scene does not have a long tradition, nonetheless it can boast of writers who enriched it greatly,” Camilleri said.

The financial reward for the winners of this year’s book prize was higher than in previous years. “An increase in the financial reward must also be accompanied by an increase in the standard of writing,” Camilleri said, hoping for a time where the Maltese author will be able to sustain himself with his artistic productions.

He mentioned one of the projects of the Council for next year, namely the restoration of a palace at Valletta, that will serve as a book museum and a literary agent.

Camilleri thanked Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and education minister Evarist Bartolo for the importance they had given to the book industry. “As a society we risk losing out if the book culture is not given due importance… Writers and publishers are also urged to work with the National Book Council. The better the support, the bigger the Council’s courage to continue to operate.”

The National Book Council would like to thank the members of the jury who served on the adjudication board for the National Book Prize 2018: Prof. Anthony Aquilina, Mario Ellul and Prof. Henry Frendo for the categories ‘General Research’ and ‘Biographical and historiographic research’; Andrei Vella Laurenti, Emmanuel Psaila and Dr Claudine Borg for the categories ‘Novels in Maltese and English’ and ‘Poetry in Maltese and English’.