Kif tista’ ġġibha Żewġ…?

Cover: Adolf Formosa

Congratulations to Alex Vella Gera for winning second prize in the Adult Fiction category of the Premju Nazzjonali tal-Ktieb. I would have loved to point out the irony in this but, really, there is none: it’s just one big mess.

Mr Vella Gera is presently in the middle of an embarrassing (for the country), archaic (for the world) and spiteful (for the author and his family) lawsuit that originated from the publication of a sexually explicit short story in a University (!) newspaper. Self-righteous individuals who would have otherwise never heard of nor cared for Mr Vella Gera during their lifetime, appointed themselves as moral arbiters and literature connoisseurs; they are having a field day pontificating about that which they have no interest in understanding and making sure that everyone is aware of their tantrums. This does little besides highlighting the ridiculousness of having this situation occurring in 2011.

I’ve been following Alex since his days with Hunter’s Palace, a band that I loved (and still do) because of the honest, gritty approach to music. Alex carried this same spirit to his literary work and Żewġ is nothing if not a labour of love and genuine belief in one’s fundamental right to express him/herself through an art form.  This is a book that happened because Alex wanted it to happen and I am very proud to have been part of this project.

Therefore, once again, a big well done to Alex.

12 thoughts on “Kif tista’ ġġibha Żewġ…?

  1. OK. This might be a controversial comment but I guess I’m itching to post it so here goes.

    How does irony come into this? Let me start by saying that I have not read ZEWG but I have read “Li tkisser sewwi”. What is ironic about the fact that AVG won an award for the story ZEWG but is being prosecuted for the story LI TKISSER SEWWI? It would be ironic if he won an award for the story while at the same time being prosecuted – sure – but this is nothing, zilch in terms of irony.

    It’s a bit like writing that it is ironic that Jeffrey Archer was put in jail since he writes successful books. Challenge the law YES. Believe that it is sad that in this day and age a story like LTS can send someone to prison YES. Read irony into the fact that a book by AVG was awarded a literary prize… please. No.

    Even AVG’s refusal to accept the prize because the government prosecuted him is questionable. The government is not the law. The law is made by parliament, enforced by the police and applied by the courts. if our intellectuals refuse to distinguish this fact then fine. Then we are all victims and should be turning ourselves into human bbq’s like our cousins in Tunisia and Egypt. Now that would be controversial wouldn’t it.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not in favour of censorship. I believe the law should be changed in order to prefer classification over censorship. I think that we will not have the balls to do so unless we elect a third party in parliament.

    • the irony i would have liked to point out referred to ms cristina’s speech as reported by the media:

      ‘Writers… could not remain idle. They could not enamour with compromise’ and that ‘The awards… were a challenge for excellence over mediocrity.’ (this is from the times – i have yet to figure out whether the terrible english is the journalist’s or ms cristina’s)

      and this diatribe happened a couple of days after alex was back in court…

      as regards his refusal to accept the prize, that was entirely up to him and i will not speak on his behalf… what irks me though is not the antediluvian censorship laws but the fact that they are randomly enforced… if LTS is against the law then how come the authorities didn’t remove equally controversial works in maltese from bookshops and libraries?… why didn’t they arraign other authors, publishers and booksellers?… it’s 2 weights and 2 measures but who is weighed and what is measured are anybody’s guess… or just a lottery…

      i am also in favour of classification over censorship, education over indoctrination… i also think that it’ll take a couple of donkey’s years before the maltese people can handle a third party in parliament (hopefully i’m wrong)…

  2. “Even AVG’s refusal to accept the prize because the government prosecuted him is questionable.”

    Jacques, you’re either watching too much NET TV or there’s something wrong with the water in Luxembourg. Or you’re just being you. I never said I refused to accept the prize, and I never mentioned the government. In my letter I said, clearly, that I would not attend (different to accepting the prize or not) because of the libellous reportage by NET TV, which ultimately the PM is responsible for as leader of the PN. That’s about it really. I never mentioned prosecution. I never mentioned the government. I never mentioned not accepting the prize.

  3. @Noel. Agreed re reporting. You never know who said what these days. I see we have many points in common thpugh from a legal point of view I’m more worried that the measure exists than the fact that it is applied discriminately.

    @alex. I’m cannot watch net, I don’t drink water unless it’s boiled and used in tea and I like to think that I’m always me. I like your reason for nit attending and fully subscribe to your point of view in that case.

    On a more general note am I right in assuming that we all agree on the lack of irony in the award/court case business?

  4. It is true that the word “irony” is often misused. From where I’m standing it’s true, there is no irony. But I guess to a casual partially interested observer who doesn’t know all the details, the court case and the award may seem related, as in: “Ara dak, iccensurawh issa qed ituh premju, ara vera ma tifhimhomx dan-nies.”
    And maybe in a way, that is the correct interpretation of the facts. The bigger picture.
    Personally I’m not bothered either way. I’m refraining from entering into discussions about the whole thing (this blog the exception) because it seems to have a life of its own which I don’t recognise in my original intention with the infamous story. To me the story is not infamous. It was written with a pure heart. I know this sounds outlandish, but it’s true.

    • jacques, i have that feeling too re the measure, but it’s just a gut feeling, which is why i refrain from too much blabbering… i am either being paranoid or not being paranoid enough, but the overall feeling i get is that this hullabaloo started because of someone’s hidden agenda, TOTALLY UNRELATED to censorship, and it just got out of hand when it was transformed into a bandwagon… LTS just happened to be conveniently there…

      fingers crossed that in the end something good will come out of this mess…

      re irony: i really wish there was…

  5. @alex It’s infamous in the bigger picture of mass communication.

    @Noel This ironic award business has inspired me. I’ve got a J’accuse article in mind to nominate for the Malta journalism awards (i’ve never nominated before because I hate the idea of self-nomination). The title? “The Death of Journalism” :)

  6. Jacques, talking about the death of journalism … the Times is referring to ZEWG as controversial. They probably think LTS is in the book. That’s what you get for not having a journalist who specializes in cultural matters. The amount of misinformation, misinterpretations and misunderstandings in this case is frustrating to me. A case in point your misreading (or no reading at all) of my letter of protest. Having to clarify the obvious over and over again is too much.

  7. Alex. I wrote about these dangers in tomorrows article. Incidentally I am not a journalist. Never considered myself one. Im an opinionated opinionist who relies on reported events to be able to comment.

    • i don’t know whether they fixed it but the initial report in the times referred to LTS as a novel… a couple of hours later sierra book dist posted on facebook that they’ve been inundated with phone calls asking for this ‘novel’…

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