The Malta Independent 23 February 2024, Friday
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Showcasing Malta’s finest books

Sunday, 12 November 2023, 15:27 Last update: about 4 months ago

For films, there are the Oscars. For books in English, there is the Booker. And here in Malta, for books published in our little country blessed with its own language, there is the National Book Prize.

Organised by the National Book Council, the prize is awarded annually to the best books published locally, with categories for both adults' and children's books. The prize serves as a mark of prestige for the winning books, as well as for the talented authors, illustrators, editors, proofreaders and publishers behind their creation.


The National Book Prize also provides Maltese readers with a valuable guide, helping them discern and choose the finest books published in a given year. In recent years, the National Book Council has also been publishing a shortlist, a compilation of finalists from which the winning books are later chosen. This way, even if a book does not secure the top prize, it still carries the honour and distinction of being among the finalists.

The list of finalists for this year's edition of the National Book Prize, set to be announced later on this month, has been revealed. Merlin Publishers is proud to share that, once again, a substantial number of its books have made it to the finals.

Among the shortlisted titles are renowned authors such as Trevor Żahra, with his children's poetry book Ejja nsajru poeżija; Simon Bartolo with the gothic adventure Il-kreatura taħt is-sodda; Clare Azzopardi with the play Tebut Isfar, as well as Irvin Vella investigatur virtwali: Il-każ tal-ħabsi bla ħtija, the latest addition to the beloved detective series penned by John A. Bonello.

The shortlist also showcases several emerging authors, including Lon Kirkop with the collection of plays Fil-ħajja li jmiss, u drammi oħra tat-triq and Francesco Grech with his book revelation Kollox jeħel magħna.

In addition to these, the shortlist includes translated works, such as the latest books in the beloved Lupu Lupettu series (translated by Clare Azzopardi), Każ Miftuħ, a children's book presented as an investigative game (translated by Noel Tanti), and new additions to the series Il-Ħbieb tal-Annimali (translated by Mark Vella). The shortlist for translation also features the latest mystery for young investigators Sherlock Holmes, Arsene Lupin and Irene Adler in the book Sherlock, Lupin u Jien: Il-katidral tal-biża' (translated by Dwayne Ellul).

Our selection of books for young readers, including picture books and more, has also made its mark on the shortlist. Here, we find the beautiful picture book Id-dar tal-ħolm by Moira Scicluna Zahra who is both the author and illustrator, as well as Ana u Zak isalvaw il-pjaneta, a children's story with an environmental theme by Audrey Friggieri, and the extremely well-received Jien u Beppe, Beppe u Jien, a collaborative effort by autistic child Beppe Caruana and Clare Azzopardi.

Regardless of the final awards, all the finalists deserve a hearty round of applause. More than that, they deserve the support of readers who should seek out their books in libraries and bookshops, as they undoubtedly represent the cream of the crop among Maltese books published in the last 12 months.

All the books mentioned are available in all bookshops, as well as through, where you can access excerpts of books to be read online.

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