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First Maltese woman to win European literature prize

We’re really excited about this one! Talented Maltese writer Lara Calleja has won the prestigious European prize for Literature 2021 cycle, with her short story anthology Kissirtu Kullimkien, announced the European Commission.

The writer is the first Maltese woman to have won this brilliant prize! In her work, she tackles the unbridled construction frenzy on the island, construed through the author’s lens as an attack on the soul. That being said, from the cycle of construction and destruction, friendships can bloom, and these stories search for hope amidst the rubble, calm beyond the chaos, and a quest for a change despite a rampant and asphyxiating uglification of rural and urban spaces.

The aim for the prize is to spotlight the creativity and diverse wealth of Europe’s contemporary literature in the filed of fiction, to promote the circulation of literature within Europe and encourage greater interest in non-national literary works.

The works of the selected winners (one per country participating in the Prize on a rotation basis) will reach a wider and international audience and touch readers beyond national and linguistic borders. The Prize is financed by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Commission, which aims to achieve three main goals: to promote cross-border mobility of those working in the cultural sector, to encourage the transnational circulation of cultural and artistic output, and to foster intercultural dialogue. The Prize competition is open to the 41 countries currently involved in the Creative Europe Programme.

Each year, national juries in a third of the participating countries nominate their winning authors, making it possible for all countries and language areas to be represented over three years. “The European Prize for Literature celebrates the incredible creativity and diversity of the contemporary European literary scene. After a year of the pandemic, literature’s immense value is evident more than ever: yes, books are essential for Europe and the Europeans. Congratulations to all winners!” Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel said.

The European Prize for Literature is awarded every year to ten authors from 41 countries participating in the Creative Europe Programme. This year’s winners have been selected by 13 national juries, composed of authors, publishers and booksellers.

An anthology of the winners’ writing is published every year, with extracts from their award-winning books in the original language and in French and English translation.

Congrats, Lara!