‘Displaced’ writers discuss the experience of the literary diaspora at Malta Book Festival

MaltaToday film critic Teodor Reljic leads conference on literature in the diaspora at the Malta Book Festival

Writer and MaltaToday film critic Teodor Reljic will lead the conference
Writer and MaltaToday film critic Teodor Reljic will lead the conference

The prestigious Malta Book Festival opens on Wednesday 7 November with a conference on ‘Literature in the Diaspora’ led by journalist and writer Teodor Reljić (Serbia/Malta).

The conference will bring together Lou Drofenik (Malta), Nikola Petković (Croatia), Vera Duarte (Capo Verde) and Philip Ò Ceallaigh (Ireland), four writers who have all experienced displacement in their own unique way.

Time will be dedicated to their individual responses to the literary diaspora, how their own social and political contexts shape their view of the literary diasporas most relevant to their situation, and discss more intimate and psychologically probing elements inherent in diasporic literature.

The authors will aso discuss the literary diaspora’s claim on intellectual, aesthetic and political ambiguity to focus on other urgent political realities – among them the so-called “migration crisis”.

Writers will also speak about who they safeguard against the exoticisation of ‘the Other’ and the ‘foreignness’ into which they are placed into – by choice or otherwise.

Lou Drofenik’s fiction is founded on extensive historical research and focuses on the migrant experience, specifically in a Maltese-Australian context. Lou grew up in Malta and now lives in Victoria, Australia. She was awarded the National Book Prize 2017 for prose for her novel The Confectioner’s Daughter (Horizons, 2016).

Nikola Petković’s fields of expertise include ethnic, national, racial, and class identities; cultures of Central Europe; and intercultural communication. Nikola is a Croatian writer, literary critic, translator, screenwriter, and scholar. As Miloš Đurđević writes, “In Petković's poetry, various forms and aspects of exile are described, including self-exile and preventive exile, as well as the impossibility to leave and abandon oneself.”

A member of the Cape Verdean Academy of Letters, Vera Duarte has been involved in national and international organisations related to women's rights, culture and human rights. She has published numerous poetry books, novels, essays and chronicles. A Matriarca, Vera Duarte's latest novel, is a polyphonic novel that portrays a diasporic Cape Verdean society (it is a well-known fact that more Cabo Verdeans live abroad than in Cape Verde itself). Based on two love stories, the novel attempts at depicting the history of Cape Verde and Africa as a whole.

Philip Ó Ceallaigh is an Irish writer and a translator who is based in Romania. He does not think so much of himself as writing "about" places so much as using them to write about the things that interest him. In other words, the imaginative act is of greater importance than the descriptive one. He has published over forty stories, many of which collected in Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse, for which he was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Among other books, he has translated Mikhail Sebastian’s For Two Thousand Years, published by Penguin Classics.

The conference ‘Literature in the Diaspora’ will be held on Wednesday 7 November at 7 pm in the Activity Area, Sacra Infermeria Hall, Mediterranean Conference Centre