The Malta Book Festival kicks off this week! Organised by the National Book Council and taking place between 18 and 22 October at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali, the Festival is the main book-based annual event in Malta, boasting a rich history and welcoming visitors of all ages and from all walks of life.
This year, the Festival carries the theme #beyondbooks, which embraces the medium’s possibility to transcend the written word and manifest itself through illustration, theatre, film, and more. In tandem with the National Book Council’s (NBC) remit to ensure the book’s centrality in both the educational and cultural spheres of Maltese life, the Festival will serve as a celebratory reminder of this mission, incorporating the collaboration of key local stakeholders, while enhanced with the presence of exciting international participants.
The programme on offer is a rich one, so here’s a handy guide through some of the Festival highlights.
Taking to the Stage
Unsurprisingly, collaboration is a key component of creating a multi-sensory experience. This is why the NBC has teamed up with a number of strong partners to ensure a memorable experience for visitors from all walks of life. The musical-theatre show VII/Fidwa, organised by Teatru Malta together with the NBC and led by the rising-star musical duo The New Victorians, will feature a medley of songs from two sold-out theatrical performances — Sette and Il-Fidwa tal-Bdiewa — both of which are inspired by historical episodes in Maltese history in which the common folk rose up against impossible conditions imposed by their oppressors.
On a more light-hearted note, the celebrated playwright Simone Spiteri will be creating a theatrical experience aimed at primary school students, inspired by a selection of books who have won the Terramaxka Prize.
For Italian-language speakers, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura will be presenting ‘What is a Gap?’, which freely adapts Italo Calvino’s seminal novel The Path to the Spiders’ Nests into a playful performance that hinges on interactive wordplay.
Lending Visual Expression
Another important collaboration will be the one between the NBC and Arts Council Malta, with both entities presenting ‘From Illustration to Book’ exhibition for the second time running. Paying tribute to the history of book illustration and its key role in Maltese publishing, the exhibition will invite visitors to appreciate the historical evolution of the form.
Arts Council Malta is also a key collaborator in the Interactive Mural project, for which four artists — chosen by the Malta Community of Illustrators — will paint a live mural, as led by Matthew Demarco of Bloom Creative/MaltaType, and with the intention of promoting illustration as a medium for positive social change.
Meanwhile, the exhibition Il-Malti: Il-Mixja Sal-Għarfien Uffiċjali — a collaboration between Heritage Malta and L-Akkademja Tal-Malti — will trace the evolution of the Maltese language from its Semitic roots up to its take-up as an official EU language, through the use of intriguing books and documents.
The Evolution of a Book
This year’s edition of the Malta Book Festival will not just take us #beyondbooks — it will also lend a deeper insight into the process of book creation: from conception to pitching and finally, printing.
Through workshops and masterclasses by international guests Sam Blake and Charlie Castelletti, visitors will be able to shape initial ideas into workable, attractive stories, while a session on editing by the founders of Praspar Press will allow them to refine their manuscripts further.
Literary agent Simon Trewin will then talk about what happens to manuscripts as their authors prepare to face the realities of the industry. Finally, a more hands-on session by Gutenberg Press will offer a step-by-step demonstration of the journey of the book as a physical object: from binding to printing.
Welcoming International Guests
While some of the above workshops are now fully booked, visitors still have a chance to engage with the Festival’s international guests.
Sam Blake and established local author Leanne Ellul will engage a conversation moderated by Simon Trewin, Finding the Words, during which both authors will delve into the nuts and bolts of their respective creative processes. Praspar Press — comprising of Kat Storace and Jen Calleja — will be launching Scintillas 3: New Maltese Writing, while C.A. Castle (Charlie Castelletti) will be launching his debut novel The Manor House Governess at the Festival.
The Festival will once again host Il-Kamra Sensorja, set up by Inspire Foundation in collaboration with APS Bank. This autism-friendly space (with low stimulation, basic sensory items, and autism-friendly resources) allows children on the spectrum to have access to storytelling activities in a safe and inclusive environment.
The philanthropically-minded cafe Jacob’s Brew will be serving hot drinks from their truck at the Festival, in a first-time collaboration which is warmly greeted by the NBC, thanks to the ‘Brew’s ‘pay it forward’ philosophy.
The National Book Council will be ensuring that, besides ample parking space at the MFCC north entrance, everyone can reach the Festival by public transport thanks to enhanced bus routes offered by Malta Public Transport. The current routes leading to Ta’ Qali will be increased in frequency from Wednesday to Sunday. Click here for more information.
The Malta Book Festival runs between 18-22 October at the following opening hours: on Wednesday and Thursday from 9am-1pm and 5pm-9pm; on Friday from 9am-1pm and 5pm-10pm; on Saturday from 9:30am-10pm, and on Sunday from 9:30am-8pm.
The full programme of events for the 2023 Malta Book Festival is available online here. For the latest updates, follow the NBC website, and the NBC Facebook page and Malta Book Festival 2023 Facebook page.