AlexVella Gera

1.

Biography

A censorship cause célèbre made Alex Vella Gera, born in 1973, into something of a reluctant enfant terrible of Maltese literature just as the first decade of the 21st century was winding down, but the novel that followed that debacle hardly pulled its punches either.

Jump to bibliography

Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi (The Vipers’ Pit, Merlin Publishers, 2012) – a sins-of-the-father story flitting from the turbulent ‘80s to the post-EU noughties and taking as its fulcrum a fictional assassination attempt on Malta’s firebrand post-Independence prime minister Dom Mintoff – was Vella Gera’s first foray into conventional publishing. Published by Merlin and subsequently winning the National Book Prize in 2013, Is-Sriep has also been adapted into a feature film and was released in the summer of 2021.

Is-Sriep marked something of a break for an author whose previous works were all self-published, beginning with the collaborative poetry collection Ħbula Stirati (2007) and continuing on to the short story collections Lil Hinn Mill-Jien (Beyond the self, 2009) and Żewġ (Two, 2009), as well as his debut novel L-Antipodi (Antipodes, 2010). It was a path informed by both the DIY ethic that animated his time as an indie rock musician for the band Hunters Palace, as well as the financial stability brought about by securing a job as a translator for the European Union, first relocating to Luxembourg in 2005, and subsequently to Brussels, where he lives and works to this day.

But perhaps the most publicly defining moment of Vella Gera’s career as a literary author came in 2009, upon the publication of his short story “Li Tkisser Sewwi” in the student newspaper Ir-Realtà, edited by Mark Camilleri. The explicit and unforgivably bleak deep-dive into the mind of a misogynistic, sex-addicted bus driver fell foul of Malta’s censorship laws, and nearly landed both Vella Gera and Camilleri in jail. The case, however, became a rallying point for the (ultimately successful) attempt to reform Malta’s antiquated censorship, blasphemy and obscenity laws some years later, as advocated by affected parties in the theatrical scene, other cultural players and concerned activists and citizens. Vella Gera and Camilleri were acquitted of all charges in February 2012.

And although Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi was to follow just a few months later – and, as fate would have it, launched precisely two months after the real-life death of Dom Mintoff – Vella Gera credits his subsequent novel, Trojan (2015) as being the more direct response to both his critics and supporters in the whole debacle. Since 2015, he has been sporadically working on ‘two big novels’.

Written by Teodor Reljić

2.

Bibliography

Trojan

Prose
Maltese
Author
Awards
Winner of the Malta National Book Prize
Publisher
Klabb Kotba Maltin, Malta
Related titles

طروادة

Prose
Arabic
Author
Translator
Mahab Naji
Publisher
Dar Mahrousa, Egypt

Troyano

Prose
Spanish
Author
Translator
Antoine Cassar
Publisher
Libros de Mentira, Chile

Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi

The Vipers’ Pit
Prose
Maltese
Author
Awards
Winner of the Malta National Book Prize
Publisher
Merlin Publishers, Malta
Related titles

الثعابين مازالت سامة

The Vipers’ Pit
Prose
Arabic
Author
Translator
Walid Nabhan
Publisher
Dar Mahrousa, Egypt

Silta / Excerpt

in “After September”
Prose
Slovenian
Author
Translator
Boris Jukič
Editor
Immanuel MifsudPeter Semolič
Publisher
Vilenice, Slovenia

L-Antipodi

The Antipodes
Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
The Author

Lil Hinn Mill-Jien

Beyond the self
Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
The Author

Żewġ

Two
Prose
Maltese
Author
Awards
Winner of the Malta National Book Prize
Publisher
The Author

BXL2008

Film script
Maltese
Author
Director
Alex Vella Gera

Il-qalziet tan-nannu

Film script
Maltese
Author
Director
Alex Vella Gera

Minsi

Film script
Maltese
Author
Director
Alex Vella Gera

Ħbula Stirati

Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
The Authors
Supported by

Arts Council Malta

Creative Industries Platform

Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi

With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt

Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul

Manage cookie preferences