The NBC pre­sents ‘Lit­er­a­ture and To­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism – A Con­fer­ence’ dur­ing the Malta Book Fes­ti­val

Malta Independent - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

This year the Malta Book Fes­ti­val opens with a highly an­tic­i­pated event − a con­fer­ence on Lit­er­a­ture and To­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism. Basma Ab­del Aziz, Pa­trick McGuin­ness, Alek Popov and Im­manuel Mif­sud are among the spe­cial guests in­vited to en­gage in a con­ver­sa­tion with jour­nal­ist Jur­gen Balzan on how lit­er­a­ture typ­i­cally re­sponds to sys­tems of gover­nance that seek to sti­fle all forms of in­di­vid­ual ex­pres­sion in the so­cial sphere, par­tic­u­larly when lan­guage it­self be­comes the tar­get of op­pres­sion.

Basma Ab­del Aziz, the Egyp­tian au­thor of the dystopian novel The Queue, is also a hu­man rights ac­tivist and works as a psy­chol­o­gist coun­selling vic­tims of po­lice and army tor­ture. As an eye­wit­ness of both the Arab Spring and its dis­ap­point­ing and bit­ter af­ter­math, her par­tic­i­pa­tion will en­sure the dis­cus­sion re­mains in the realm of ac­tual and cur­rent sce­nar­ios.

Pa­trick McGuin­ness, on the other hand, will bring in a his­tor­i­cal per­scep­tive. He is the au­thor of The Last Hun­dred Days, a chill­ingly re­al­is­tic ac­count of the deaththroes of one of the worst regimes in East Europe be­fore the fall of the Soviet Union. It should be noted that the au­thor is him­self an eye­wit­ness of the events de­scribed in the book.

Set in the same geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties but adopt­ing a dis­tinctly satir­i­cal tone, Alek Popov’s two nov­els, Mis­sion: Lon­don and The Black Box, look through the his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive to glimpse at a present which seems to en­sue a even more dan­ger­ous form of to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism – that of ne­olib­er­al­ist cap­i­tal­ism.

Fi­nally, in or­der to bring in our his­tory into the pic­ture, au­thor and poet Im­manuel Mif­sud will talk about the times of trou­ble in Mal­tese so­ci­ety, specif­i­cally the 1980s, and how th­ese times brought Mal­tese so­ci­ety very close to the kind of tur­moil and sec­tar­ian ten­sion nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism.

The gen­eral pub­lic is in­vited to join in Temi Zam­mit Hall, MCC Val­letta on Wed­nes­day, 9 Novem­ber at 7pm.

For more de­tails about the five-day cul­tural pro­gramme of events visit http://ktieb.org.mt/?page_id=137; Face­book page: https://www.face­book.com/events/ 1951963831697045/

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