Camilleri fires broadside at namesake over censorship of ‘Rentseekers...’ review

Author Mark Camilleri says his successor at the National Book Council instructed that no literary review of his work is carried out in the Council’s sponsored newspaper column

Mark Camilleri, author of a A Rentseeker's Paradise
Mark Camilleri, author of a A Rentseeker's Paradise

The former chairman of the National Book Council said his successor ordered that a literary review of his book ‘A Rentseeker’s Paradise’, should not be featured in a newspaper column sponsored by the same council.

Author and publisher Mark Camilleri filed a judicial protest denouncing his namesake for having instructed Mark Vella, also a member of the NBC, not to review Camilleri’s scathing book on the Labour administration. Vella had testified to the instruction in a constitutional case filed by Camilleri against the NBC.

Camilleri is arguing that such an instruction goes against the laws set up by the National Book Council to protect the interests of authors and writers.

Camilleri was appointed as executive chairman of the National Book Council in 2013, but was removed in 2021 after having taken an active role in criticising the Labour administration of Joseph Muscat after 2019, as well as the leadership ambitions of Robert Abela, which he campaigned against. He was replaced by his namesake, author and school principal, Mark Camilleri.

“I was not surprised by this act of censorship because this person is politically motivated in discriminating against me just so that he is pleases his superiors. The appointment of my namesake is a joke crafted by former permanent secretary Frank Fabri and the OPM,” Camilleri said.

Camilleri claims he has been discriminated against by the Council over the allocation of space for publishers at the Book Festival, or that his efforts in exporting Maltese titles to London do not enjoy the same support as other publishers.

“It shows how serious Labour’s control on state as well as cultural institutions is. This impacts on society by incentivising artists who support government and condemning critical artists and publishers.

“Government aid is important for the industry of culture, but Labour is stifling creativity in a toxic atmosphere where recognition and aid is only granted if you are of value to the Labour Party, or at least, not controversial... being critical to the great corruption tolerated by former prime minister Joseph Muscat, or Rosianne Cutajar, appears to be off-limits to the head of the National Book Council.”