The Malta Independent 21 April 2019, Sunday

National Book Prize: Alex Vella Gera Boycotts awards; wins second prize

Malta Independent Saturday, 22 January 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Alex Vella Gera, who is in court over his short story, Li Tkisser Sewwi, who has been accused of breaking Malta’s obscenity laws, won second prize on Thursday night with his book Żewġ during the National Book Prize awards held at Auberge the Castille.

Mr Vella Gera, however, was not there to receive his prize from Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi because he boycotted the ceremony in protest against the way the Nationalist Party station Net TV had described him as “promoting paedophilia” with his short story. A few other authors also boycotted the ceremony in a show of support. In a press statement, Net TV countered by accusing Mr Vella Gera of “censoring” them.

Speaking to TMID, Mr Vella Gera expressed his pleasure at winning the prize.

“As a self-published writer that is particularly satisfying. Regarding my court case, I don’t think it will make any difference, but in the great scheme of things, it is definitely excellent timing. As for Net TV, (Head of News) Nathaniel Attard needs to buy himself a dictionary and look up the word “censorship”. There’s this misconception in this infantile nation of ours that condemning or criticising something amounts to censorship?”

Meanwhile, Merlin Books also had cause to celebrate for sweeping both first and second prizes in all the three categories they publish in.

Asked for his reaction, Merlin publisher and editor Chris Gruppetta said, “We’re thrilled of course – these are arguably the three most important categories in literature: adult fiction, children’s fiction and teenage fiction. Plus, Mark Scicluna won the Best Illustrator Award for the second year running for three Merlin books. And once again Merlin was the publishing house with most awards to its name – the awards come as welcome recognition for the hard work of our authors, illustrators, designers and the entire team.”

The winners are:

Literary Prose: Novels and Short Stories in Maltese

First Prize

Qed Nistennik Nieżla max-Xita, Pierre J. Mejlak, Merlin Library Ltd

Second Prize

45, Chris Gruppetta, Merlin Library Ltd


Żewġ, Alex Vella Gera (Self-Published)

Prose Non-Fiction

First Prize

Panoramic Malta and Gozo, Daniel Cilia, Book Distributors Ltd

Second Prize

It-Tifel tan-Nanna, Ġorġ Peresso, Horizons

Prose Non Fiction: Textbooks

First Prize

Il-Qari tal-Letteratura bejn Esperjenza u Kritika, Terence Portelli, Allied Publications

Poetry in Maltese

First Prize

Weraq Sfajjar fix-Xagħri, Maurice Mifsud Bonnici

Second Prize

Id-Demm Nieżel bħax-Xita, Adrian Grima and Karl Schembri, Edizzjoni Skarta


Bliet, Norbert Bugeja, Edizzjonijiet Emma Delezio

Poetry in Another Language

First Prize

Poesie, Poems, Poeżija, J.J. Cremona, Klabb Kotba Maltin

Works of Biographical and Historical Research in Maltese or in Another Language

First Prize

Jewellery in Malta, Francesca Balzan, Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti and Midsea Books

Second Prize

Baroque Painting in Malta, Keith Sciberras, Midsea Books

General Research in Maltese and English

First Prize

Dan hu l-Islam, Taħriġ ta’ Tifsir, Edmund Teuma, ĊAK

Second Prize

Exploring the Maltese Media Landscape, Joseph Borg, Mary Ann Lauri and Adrian Hillman, Allied Publications

Drama in Maltese

First Prize

Ħitan bil-Moffa, Joseph Vella Bondin, Bronk Productions

Second Prize

Ippermettili Nitlaq, Alfred Buttigieg, Klabb Kotba Maltin

Prose for Children

First Prize

Il-Każ Kważi kollu tal-Aħwa de Molizz, Clare Azzopardi, Merlin Library Ltd

Second Prize

Ir-Re Pankrazju jagħlaq Mitt Sena, Clare Azzopardi, Merlin Library Ltd


Id-Dar fi Sqaq il-Forka, Ivan de Battista, Klabb Kotba Maltin

Prose for Adolescents

First Prize

Il-Ġnien tad-Dmugħ, Simon Bartolo and Loranne Vella, Merlin Library Ltd

Second Prize

L-Aħħar Ġranet ta’ Ciorni u Stejjer Oħra, Mario Azzopardi, Merlin Library Ltd

Poetry and Drama for Children and Adolescents

First Prize

Paroli, Trevor Żahra, Malta Union of Teachers

Translations and Books in Another Language for Children and Adolescents

First Prize

Don’t Cross the Road, Holly/Taqsamx it-Triq, Fuxa, Rita Antoinette Borg

Special Prize for Translations in Maltese or in Another Language

First Prize

Il-Politika tal-Persważjoni, Charles Abela Mizzi, Allied Publications

Best Illustrator for Children’s Works

Mark Scicluna

Best Production in Maltese

Michael Schiavone/Outlook Coop Inservi, PIN

Best Production in Another Language

Joseph Mizzi, Baroque Paintings in Malta, Midsea Books

Special Lifetime Achievement prize for a person who has contributed greatly in the fields of Literature and Publication

Alfred Palma

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