Writers who pen their literary works in Maltese are going to be given the opportunity to have their novels, stories or plays translated in order to reach out to readers beyond our shores.

This will be possible through a new scheme, called Spreading Words, launched by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.

The “symbolic fund” would start off with a modest €20,000 for the first year but would be increased if it became popular, Culture Minister Mario de Marco said during a press conference at the National Library in Valletta.

Recent studies showed that only a minority of Maltese preferred reading in their mother tongue, the minister said.

Writers in Maltese faced various obstacles including the limited audience of just over 420,000 people, he said. In addition, there was a lack of professional literary translators and a dearth of associations of authors and publishers to push the cause.

Simone Inguanez, art executive responsible for the fund, said she was concerned that Maltese authors would end up writing in another language just because using Maltese was not feasible for them. The scheme, which falls under the Malta Arts Fund, will help tackle this by allowing them to share their literary works with larger audiences, in the language of their choice.

Spreading Words will operate under a proposal-based screening process, which will take place every six months. The deadline of the first call for applications closes in March.

Applicants may apply for a translation grant for a whole body of works or for a grant to translate a sample of their work.

Eligible works include prose, poetry or plays, including literature for children and young adults as well as literary non-fiction.

Priority will be given to out-standing works of contemporary Maltese literature and to books introducing the author’s work into new languages.

For further information on the Spreading Words support grant visit www.maltaculture.com.

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