The National Book Council has recently announced the winners of the 2023 National Book Prize. A hearty congratulations to everyone involved!
The winners of the 2023 National Book Prize were announced on the 24th of November during a private ceremony held at the Magazino Hall at the Valletta Waterfront. The National Book Prize is presented annually by the National Book Council, with winning titles chosen by an independent board of adjudicators in line with a rigorous selection process.
In his opening address, the National Book Council (NBC) Executive Chairperson Mark Camilleri hailed the significant legacy of the National Book Prize, now in its 46th edition and unwavering in its commitment to celebrating the highest achievements in literary and research publishing in Malta. However, the ceremony also came with a surprise announcement from Camilleri, who revealed that as of this year’s edition, all winning publishing houses will receive a €1,000 prize. The decision to introduce this new strand to the National Book Prize stemmed from an acknowledgement of the challenges faced by publishers in recent years, by dint of the economic disruption caused by international upheavals. Camilleri highlighted a surge in submissions for poetry and drama, signalling a revival in these categories. He also underscored the strategic importance of collaborations, citing renewed partnerships and new synergies with local and international organizations to boost the global presence of Maltese literature. In closing, he expressed gratitude to collaborators, authors, illustrators, publishers and the dedicated NBC team, reinforcing the Council’s commitment to advancing Maltese literature.
In a recorded address, Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation Clifton Grima described the National Book Prize as a highly important event, which works towards promoting books and reading, particularly among children and youths. The Minister expressed his appreciation for all those who ensure that the book remains central to Maltese culture.
The winning titles were selected from a shortlist of 61 titles, published in the preceding year, across fourteen competitive categories: 36 books in the eight categories for adults and 26 in the six for children and young adults (Premju Terramaxka). In their comments, adjudicators expressed a particular enthusiasm for the submissions in the Poetry category, noting that a healthy selection of high-quality work from both established and up-and-coming poets made it to the shortlist. This year’s General Research shortlist was also deemed to be exceptional, with adjudicators stating the certain entries could easily transcend their specialised niches to appeal to a wider reading public.
Two special prizes were also bestowed during the ceremony. The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred to Daniel Massa for his seminal contributions to Maltese poetry, who could not be present for the ceremony due to illness but who sent in a recorded message. Thanking the National Book Council for honouring his sixty-year career trajectory in prose and poetry, Massa urged young poets to look to both local and international luminaries of the craft for inspiration — among them Dun Karm, Dylan Thomas and TS Eliot — and to bear in mind that the road to poetic greatness is long and rewarding. ‘Search for beauty, but do not shy away from ugliness,’ Massa said.
The award for Best Emergent Author was given to Lon Kirkop, who also emerged victorious in the Drama category with his collection of short plays, Fil-Ħajja li Jmiss u Drammi Oħra tat-Triq (Merlin Publishers). Kirkop said that receiving this award fills him with added confidence to continue sharing his writers with readers as an emerging writer. ‘Especially when you’re just starting out, like I am currently, acknowledgments like these provide reassurance that what you’re doing is meaningful,’ he said.
The National Book Council would like to thank the members of the adjudication board of the 2023 National Book Prize and Terramaxka: Omar Seguna, Robert Pisani, Simone Spiteri, Rachel Baldacchino, Liam Gauci, Joseph M Brincat, Sandra Hili Vassallo, Kristy Borg and Charmaine Bonello.
Special thanks go to Margaret Callus from Malta Libraries for the classification of the submitted books in their respective category.
National Book Prize for Adults
LORANNE VELLA – Marta Marta
RITA SALIBA – Tbajja’ tax-Xemx u Stejjer Oħra għad-Dell
MURAD SHUBERT – Imbagħad il-Qiegħ
LON KIRKOP – Fil-Ħajja li Jmiss u Drammi Oħra tat-Triq
MARK VELLA – Mur Ġibek… Eżerċizzji ta’ Tortura u Seduzzjoni
CHRISTIAN ATTARD – The Art of Dying Well: Visual Cultures in Times of Piety and Plague Malta 1675-1814
BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORIOGRAPHIC RESEARCH
WILLIAM ZAMMIT – Slavery, Treason and Blood: The 1749 Plot of the Slaves in Malta
BEST BOOK PRODUCTION
FONDAZZJONI PATRIMONJU MALTI – Society Fashion in Malta: The Portrait Photography of Leandro Preziosi 1830-1869
BEST EMERGENT AUTHOR
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Terramaxka Prize for Children and Young Adults
ORIGINAL WORKS FOR CHILDREN AGES 0-7
MARIA FARRUGIA, LOUISELLE SCIBERRAS (ILL.) – Luċjan u Enzo: is-sriedak li kienu jgħiru għal xulxin
ORIGINAL WORKS FOR CHILDREN AGES 8-12
JOHN A. BONELLO, FRANCESCA GRECH (ILL.) – Irvin Vella, Investigatur Virtwali: Il-Każ tal-Ħabsi Bla Ħtija
YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
DAVID ALOISIO – Ġganti
TRANSLATION FOR CHILDREN AGES 0-7
JANET MALLIA – Kieku Armadillo Jmur f’Ristorant
TRANSLATION FOR CHILDREN AGES 8-12
NOEL TANTI – Każ Miftuħ: Segwi l-Indizji!
YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION
DWAYNE ELLUL – Sherlock, Lupin u Jien: Il-Katidral tal-Biża’
BEST BOOK PRODUCTION
BDL PUBLISHING – Luċjan u Enzo: is-sriedak li kienu jgħiru għal xulxin