Interview with Times of Malta on Maltese literature

I was interviewed by the Times of Malta for a feature they did on Maltese literature. These are all my answers to the questions. Two other complete lists of answers have been published by Immanuel Mifsud and Toni Sant.

Is Maltese literature passing through a golden age?

No, we have yet to see a golden age of Maltese literature. The nearest thing we ever had to a golden age of Maltese literature was the inter-War period of the 1920s and 1930s.

What themes, style, motifs etc. Define contemporary Maltese literature?

There is a wide variety of literature but I would say the biggest influences are the neo-realists of the early 21st century namely Immanuel Mifsud and Ġużè Stagno.

Is Maltese lit now more critical than in the past? I.e towards society, those in power etc.

No, not at all. We have exceptions, but the general answer is no.

Which works were the first to start this “critical” contemporary period?

The neo-realists have brought renewed criticism but it is not as widespread as one would expect from a community of authors.

These last years have seen several new authors make it to the literary scene. Why do you think this is happening?

There are always new authors coming in but access to publishing has increased significantly during my time as Executive Chairman of the National Book Council as new publishers were born and more titles were published.

How many people buy a successful Maltese language novel/ collection of short stories?

Not a lot. We need more Maltese people to be interested in local publications of all kinds including literature.

What are some of the biggest challenges Maltese language authors face today?

The biggest challenge for any writer is always to write something good. Literature is one of the most difficult things in the world. And there has been so much that has been written and published already that it’s difficult to be original and distinct as well. When I was executive chairman of the Book Council I increased revenues for authors with various means such as increased book sales and the PLR. If authors earn more money they can spend more time writing and focusing on their work, but at the end of the day, it is up to the individual to make the necessary sacrifices to come up with a good product. Malta has a very small market but it is not impossible either and today good literature can also be sold abroad thanks to the many export initiatives I had initiated when I was Chairman.

Which contemporary Maltese lit book do you recommend? Right now?

Of course, I would recommend the anthology “L-Antoloġija tal-Letteratura Mqarba” because I have published it myself. But literally, right now, the Maltese book which is sitting next to me for immediate reading is Loranne Vella’s “Marta Marta”.

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