Some things are better said to prevent them from happening again in the future. I’m not happy I’m in this position, but I’m filled with disgust at the toxic behaviour of my successor at the National Book Council.
This week the National Book Council announced its special guests at the Malta Book Festival. They will most probably be paid €100,000 each for their appearance at the Book Festival because that’s the standard rate for such high-profile guests. My problem is not this. My problem is that although my successor would prefer to splash out on two high-profile visits for one single festival, he treats local authors and publishers like shit and forces them to fork out personal money for official trips aimed at promoting their books abroad. That’s not all.
If my successor doesn’t like you as an author, he will book you in a room above a pub, apart from refusing to give you any per-diem. This behaviour is insane.
Throughout my time at the Book Council I began an international export campaign where we successfully exported many Maltese books in translation abroad for the first time. I used to fund authors’ travels abroad to promote their publications in foreign languages and when doing so I used to pay them a generous per diem. If I was present with them, I would fork out the bills for their dinners and drinks most often from my own personal money. That’s not all. I used to send letters to their emplpoyers asking them to give them paid leave even if their leave had run out invoking their trip with national and official cultural importance.
Today, authors have to go on trips which mostly had been planned in advance during my tenure, whilst funding the taxis and food themselves and with no per-diem. Imagine an author having to take leave from work to go on an official trip supported by the government and the author having to pay for all the taxis and food themselves, often at a considerable loss of their funds if they go to a more expensive country than Malta. I’m not joking when on a recent occasion, my successor even asked some authors on an official trip to take the bus to the airport. This is how our cultural ambassadors are being treated (no, not the money launderers appointed as ambassadors, not those).
My heart bleeds at these insufferable idiotic and toxic gestures, but I am also fucking furious. And I haven’t even started ranting about the total absence of the National Book Council in one of its worst crises in history. It’s insane what they are doing to my legacy and to the industry.