Controversial writer Alex Vella Gera has won second prize in the Malta Book Awards section for Literary Prose: Novels and Short Stories in Maltese with Żewġ.

The awards were handed out late yesterday by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi but Mr Vella Gera boycotted the ceremony.

He is currently facing criminal charges over a sexually explicit short story Li Tkisser Sewwi, which appeared in the University newspaper Ir-Realtà.

In a letter circulated to the media yesterday, Mr Vella Gera said he was not comfortable in the presence of the Prime Minister who, as PN leader, set the television station’s media policy

The National Book Prize is the most prestigious literary prize in Malta. It is organised by the National Book Council.

Each year, through the National Book Council, the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, gives €23,000 in prizes to local authors and publishers.

During the ceremony, the Prime Minister and Education Minister Dolores Cristina did not make reference to the ongoing controversy over censorship and the absence of certain books from libraries.

Ms Cristina spoke on developments in the media and the problems which publishers faced. She said the National Book Awards reflected the good will of those who chose to lift society from chronic apathy. Writers, she said, could not remain idle. They could not enamour with compromise. Writers and authors should be the voice of the nation. The publishers made their dreams come true.

The awards, she added, were a challenge for excellence over mediocrity. To publish a book was relatively easy, and the challenge, therefore, was for every book to be a burst of creativity, not just in what was written, but also in the manner of its publication, since readers always deserved the best.

Allied Publications, the book publishing arm of Allied Newspapers Ltd, won three prizes namely;

Il-politika tal-perswazjoni by Guido de Marco translated in Maltese by Charles Abela Mizzi, which won the first prize in the Special Prize for Translations category.

Il-qari tal-letteratura bejn esperjenza u kritika, edited by Terence Portelli won the first prize in the category for Textbooks in Maltese or foreign language and Exploring the Maltese media landscape, edited by Joseph Borg, Adrian Hillman and Mary Anne Lauri won the second prize in the General Research in Maltese or foreign language.

The awards for books published in 2009 were as follows:

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

(and)

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

(and)

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

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

(and)

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

Prose for Adolscents

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 languages 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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