A guide to the Malta Book Festival 2019

The Malta Book Festival is less than a week away, here is everything attendees need to know about the largest literary festival on the island

With the Malta Book Festival fast-approaching, here is all the information attendees need to know about the 2019 edition of the festival.

The programme of cultural activities is comprised of more than 90 events targeted to children, families, publishing professionals and the general public. Attendees will find book launches and presentations, conferences, discussion, literary film adaptations and film premieres, workshops, seminars, fun activities for children and more.

The activities are all prepared by the National Book Council as well as exhibitors and other partners, and other stakeholders within the industry.

The festival will also showcase special guest Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Aquilina, daughter of a Maltese emigrant in the U.S, was in the international limelight last year when she presided over the Larry Nassar case. Nassar, ex-coach of the U.S National Gymnastics Team, was found guilty of sexually assaulting hundreds of teenagers during his twenty-year-long post.

Aquilina will be interviewed by the Times of Malta, Editor-in-Chief Herman Grech on 7 November at 8 pm on her legal career, activism, her Maltese connection and her literary contribution with two crime novels.

On the same day, at 11am, she will also be part of a distinguished panel in a seminar organised for University students. Marceline Naudi from the Gender Studies Department, Ruth Farrugia from the Faculty of Law and Lara Dimitrijevic from the Women’s Rights Foundation will converse with Judge Aquilina.

The main theme of the Festival this year is sci-fi and fantasy literature. The opening conference,‘Strange New Worlds’, will feature Loranne Vella, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Kali Wallace and Dave Rudden, and will tackle themes revolving around the genre such as the creation of imaginary worlds with actions that take us back to the real world, and the literariness of the genre, among others. The discussion will be moderated by sci-fi Maltese writer Mark Anthony Fenech.

Around 1,700 children are expected to visit the festival every day during a weekday morning, and the age-appropriate shows the National Book Prize organised together with Antonella Axisa and her troupe will be based on last year’s Terramaxka winners, namely Mamà, Allura din imħabba? by Moira Scicluna Zahra and Mark Scicluna for primary children, and Jarmuk by Steven Lughermo for older children.

One of the Festival’s international guests, Dave Rudden, will also be putting on a very special performance in English on Friday morning. Rudden has travelled the world visiting schools and speaking to children about their potential for becoming writers. 

The DANUSAN shows ‘Il-Kotba Jieħdu l-Ħajja’ will take place on 8 November at 7pm, 9 November at 8pm and 10 November at 3pm. They will be based on this year’s Terramaxka winning titles, which will be announced on Tuesday 5 November during the Festival’s opening ceremony.

Tickets can be purchased on showshappening.com. With every ticket on the day of the show, attendees will also receive a €3 book voucher to spend during the Festival.

The much-awaited short-film premiere will take place on 9 November. This year the winning project of the Malta Literary Short Film Contest Gulina, which was adapted from Alfred Sant’s novel that goes by the same name will is the production of Peter Sant.

During the same event, one of the episodes from the NBC docudrama series Storja ta’ Storja will also be premiered. The contest was launched in 2019 and the winning applicant is the company Sajjetta. The series is directed by Charlie Cauchi and Martin Bonnici.

On the same night, the winner of the NBC Film Adaptation Fund, which is the biggest fund to date commissioned by the NBC will also be announced. 

On 9 November, there is also poetry day at the MBF, and the winners of the Doreen Micallef National Poetry Contest will be announced during the special event at 8pm.

This year’s festival will also see a new initiative, a Literary Speed Dating event with publishing professionals. The concept of speed dating was adapted to let the public have the opportunity to book a 15-minute slot to meet with their favourite author, a publisher, an illustrator, and other publishing professionals during the MBF 2019 at the Author’s Hub in Sacra Infermeria. Persons can book their slot by visiting https://ktieb.org.mt/litspeeddating19/.

On 10 November, attendees can also get to know National Book Prize Lifetime Achievement Award went to Lillian Sciberras and learn about her literary and professional career at 5pm. 

The festival is sponsored and operated by Malta Public Transport, for the first time this year, a free shuttle service will be available for the public, daily and every 30 minutes. Attendees can park their car at Floriana and catch the MBF free bus from Bay A Valletta Terminus to the Mediterranean Conference Centre.

The Malta Book Festival 2019 is held between 6–10 November, at the MCC. A copy of the programme of activities can be found at https://ktieb.org.mt/national-book-festival/.