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Toni Aquilina on literary translation




Toni Aquilina, D. es L., associate professor at the University of Malta and one of the foremost translators of FARAXA Publishing, was recently interviewed by Malta Today regarding the role of literary translation in our times. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Q: Do you think literary translation is becoming more and more crucial for local writers? Why?


A: By ‘local writers’ you seem to be referring to those among us here in Malta who write exclusively in Maltese. They exist of course, but this is very far from the truth. Maltese literary authors (and translators are authors) for the most part indulge in at least two languages. The confusion in the minds of a good number of readers springs from the substantial financial backing that the Culture Council has been putting at the disposal of those who believe we have something worthwhile exporting, which is not wrong in itself. But I honestly believe we are putting the cart before the horse.


Without minimizing the obvious merits of a few authors writing in the vernacular, I feel we should  acknowledge that there is indeed very little written in Maltese that deserves the attention of the international reading public, and that ‘importing’ foreign masterpieces through worthy translations into Maltese (flooding the market if this were possible) would be more beneficial, because this is how the Maltese language can grow and successfully compete with English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and the rest. On the other hand, if ‘exportable’ local authors are few and far between, good translators who can do justice to their talent in other languages are a rarity. This does not mean that we should concentrate exclusively on translations of foreign authors into Maltese. Far from it. Let us also hone the tools of those of us who are predisposed for this sort of work and have the gift of tongues so to speak. This is what we are doing, after all, with regard to translators into Maltese at the Faculty of Arts of the University through the Department of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies.


Good translations into Maltese, like for example, The Diary of Anne Frank by an ex-student of mine, should at the very least be allowed to share equally the meager resources that exist,  thus making it possible for them to see the light of day. We are not even talking here of allocating funds to pay translators a deserved fee. I have repeatedly knocked on the door of the Culture Council among others to see how part of the translation rights for the above-mentioned book could be met. It is a pity and a shame at the same time that even in the field of translations, fifty years after independence, we are investing much more in translating Maltese literature into other languages than foreign languages into our own. Yet again, we owe it to foreigners (principally thanks to EU membership policy) that we are witnessing an impetus, if not an outright revival, in Maltese Language Studies.


Q: What are some of the key skills that need to be cultivated by aspiring literary translators? Are we in a position to cultivate these skills?


A: Reading strategies and language analysis basically. Then follows practice, a lot of practice on a daily basis, while doing comparative studies of other people’s translations vis-à-vis the original texts. This should make translation processes meaningful and enjoyable until they become second nature to prospective translators. Translation is really a combination of skills and this is what makes good translators authors in their own right. They definitely need a nigh perfect command of both Source and Target languages, a good ear for the best distribution possible of word clusters and enough translation theory to see you through when the going gets tough. Each language has its peculiarities and therefore juggling with the various translation tools at one’s disposal, such as shifts, transpositions, change of polarity, expansion and reduction, to mention but a few, becomes the order of the day.


Let me answer your second question now. I honestly believe that in these last ten years, the Department of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies [at the University of Malta] has provided the means to cultivate the necessary skills. Not only has it succeeded to cater for the needs of the translation market, created thanks to Maltese becoming an official language of the EU, but it has also contributed, through various publications, to demonstrate how well theory can be put into practice with regard to literary translations.


Q: Should Maltese literature focus primarily on English translations? Which other languages would it be relevant to translate Maltese books into?


A: To my way of thinking, you don’t discriminate between one language and another. It’s all a matter of whether you have a really good translator for the target language of your choice. We should know our limitations. Let’s be humble enough and admit that the vast majority of us are not really bilingual. The faster we shed this myth the better, because only then can literary translators feel free to admit the enormous effort and research it takes to produce a good translation, and lay claim on a just reward for their work.


Q: Given how Maltese – like any other language – is evolving all the time, what would be the best way to keep track of emerging new terminology and slang, with an eye to ensuring that any translation of works that makes use of this new idiom is also up-to-date and relevant?


A: It would be presumptuous of me to give a straightforward answer to this question. To begin with, the reality of emerging new terminology and slang is not relevant only to the Maltese language. Language is something alive and is therefore shaped by the realities of the day, everywhere around the world. A good number of local modern authors are using these, some with good effect like Immanuel Mifsud and Meilak, for example. Translating these, while at the same time striving to retain their meaning and flavor, is an obvious challenge for any translator. This is where strategy comes in, of course.  You can go for domestication, foreignisation, or a mixture of both. Guy de Maupassant in the 19th century frequently opted for the latter regarding his Franco-Prussian and Normandy tales. The problem lies elsewhere, in my opinion. We simply cannot continue to borrow words lock, stock and barrel from English and pretend to make them Maltese just by dressing them up in the Maltese orthography. This is ridiculous to say the least.  First you need to have in place a system of permanent ‘cells’ made up of experts in as many fields of knowledge as possible. This can be achieved through the existing set-up of the University Departments. These cells will then be coordinated by a permanent, full-time, terminology committee within the Council of the Maltese Language. Through scientific approaches, ways and means of forming new words can be explored and thus pre-empting all possible lexical problems. This in time before the media takes over, creating havoc and practically blocking the introduction of adequate neologisms which would otherwise enter the language without much ado (as we have recently seen in the case of “stessu/i” for the term selfie/s).




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Faraxa Publishing at 1st Book Festival on Campus – 2

Faraxa Publishing at 1st Book Festival on Campus – 2

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Faraxa Publishing at the 1st Book Festival on Campus








FARAXA Publishing / FARAXA Books will be taking part in the 1st Book Festival on Campus organized by l-Ghaqda tal-Malti, in conjunction with the National Book Council and the University of Malta. The festival will be held from 9.00 am to 9.00pm on Monday, April 28, 2014 through Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at the aforementioned University, Msida, Malta.

FARAXA will be offering to the general and academic public both the full range of our publications and presentations by some of our authors and translators. The schedule of our presentations will be as follows:

Monday, April 28

  • 9.00 am It-traduttur bhala qarrej privileggjat / The translator as privileged reader by Prof. Anthony Aquilina, D. es L.
  • 11.00 am The philosophy of Ibrahim al-Koni: Reading al-Koni, space and time by Meinrad Calleja.

Tuesday, April 29

  • 9.00 am The Legend of Amanda Robins by teenage, Maltese-New Yorker Corrine Annette Zahra.
  • 10.30 am Bormla: A Struggling Community by Prof. JosAnn Cutajar, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 30

  • 9.30 am Traduzzjonijiet partikolari mill-Franciz ghall-Malti / Specific translations from French into Maltese by Prof. Anthony Aquilina, D. es L.
  • 11.00 am A Land in the Storytelling Sea (forthcoming FARAXA publication) by American poet Sheryl Loeffler.
  • 1.00 pm The philosophy of Michel Foucault: Foucault – Norms, democracy and despotism by Meinrad Calleja.

More information about the festival and our stand will be available as the event nears. Book the dates now in your schedules. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Staff at FARAXA Publishing








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NEW RELEASE – I am Mariah




FARAXA Publishing has the pleasure of announcing the release of its latest children’s book I am Mariah by Doris Schembri. This interactive photo book in which Mariah interacts with her readers is intended for children aged three to seven years old. The activities presented in it can be used both for cross-curricular activities and to help children learn more about themselves. The book is also going to be available soon in the Maltese, Spanish and Arabic languages.

Mariah speaks

I am Mariah. Would you like to know more about me? If you do, please have a look at my photo story. Now, it’s your turn. Tell me something about yourself…

About the Author

Doris Schembri is a public education teacher in the Mediterranean island of Malta. Her hobbies are reading, writing and swimming.

I am Mariah can be obtained in paperback and ebook editions directly from our eStore or from major booksellers worldwide including Amazon.




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Another 4-star review for The Legend of Amanda Robins




An exciting tale of vampires reinvented where vampires have powers which are used for the good to save the world of humans and of ‘Magic State.’ Several generations of the Robins family are selected to be monarchs of ‘Magic State’ where vampires, werewolves and other magical creatures live harmoniously together but always under the threat of ominous evil forces. Many times throughout the ages, they are forced to live as humans in the human world where they prove to be an asset to the society they live in. The matriarch, Amanda, a charismatic character, is present throughout the novel and through great sacrifice and with the help of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attempts to save the world. However, will this always be possible and does it lead to happiness? A sweet story written for teens and teens at heart, which offers an alternative view of vampires and werewolves who come to the world to help, rather than destroy, human life (4-star review,




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About Corrine Annette Zahra




Below is an interview with 14-year-old Corrine Annette Zahra, author of the newly released The Legend of Amanda Robins.


When did you first start writing?
I do not remember when I actually started writing. Back in elementary school, we had to write a story at a certain period of time and these stories would be graded. For example, this semester we had to write about a victim of bullying and how they grew to fight the bully. They were short stories and I loved writing them since at the end of our deadline, we would have a party with donuts and bagels.


What is the story behind your latest book?
The story behind my latest book is that the impossible is possible. Throughout the story, many can see that Amanda did anything she set her mind to. She did the impossible. Many looked up to her as someone wise. The word itself says “I’m Possible.” The story also shows that justice and goodness will find a way through any darkest point. “Why give up?” Amanda would say. There is always the possibility that things will work out, though not as planned.


What motivated you to become an author?
My passion for writing motivated me to become an author. The smile it created on my face could tell all. It hit me like a lightening bolt that I wanted others to read what I wrote. I have always felt that I could express myself better through writing. I knew writing was what I wanted to do and seeing my first book on the shelves of bookstores is my greatest joy.


What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is how the characters grow. They become close to me as if they are real, as if they are my friends. I sometimes imagine what I would do if, for example, I was Amanda. Reading the words over and over, I feel as though I just created a work of art. The words flow and connect together to result in something extraordinary. Something that nothing can replace.


What are you working on next?
I have a few ideas for the next big thing, but it is still a work in progress. Lately, I have been busy with schoolwork and my social life, so I have not had that much time for writing. I feel ashamed about this. I have decided, though, that now my first book is out, I will start on something new and try to make time for writing.


What is your writing process?
My writing process can be slow at times. When I feel like writing, I just sit down and write. I usually like to be some place near nature where I can hear the birds chirping. When I am alone, in peace and quiet, I write. For me, it takes time to write. I need to think things through first, before I write. Then all of a sudden, reality comes back to me and there goes my writing time.


Where did you grow up and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in New York City and my childhood obviously influenced my writing. Every Saturday, my mom, sister and I would go to a bookstore called Borders and I would just love to look at all the books and read. Although I did not know at the time that I had a thing for writing, it seemed that I had it in me all along. I never noticed until now.


Even at school, we would have lessons dedicated to reading. The whole class would find a spot anywhere around the classroom and read. We would also have important lessons where we revised our own writing and at the end of the school year, we would have reading groups whereby we read a book and discussed it between us.


At my elementary school, writing and reading were very important and the teachers focused principally on them, from all the subjects we learned. Our homework was to write a short story or basically anything, as long as we wrote something interesting, with sense.


What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I am not that much of a morning person and I love my bed to bits. I usually do not feel like getting up. The fact that a new day has begun inspires me to wake up and get to work, creating something new. Every day has something good in it that most would not notice. The darkness of the room, the fresh air, make me want to get up and continue the journey of life, to face reality.


When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?
Whenever I am not writing, I spend my time either watching movies or reading. I do not just like to read, I positively love reading. Sitting somewhere in quiet, with a book, is marvelous to me. I feel bliss. Books are my best friends. I also have a thing for movies. I love the action and the drama that goes on. I cannot stay quiet when the story is at its highest point because I feel all jittery and excited.


Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Now that I think of it, I do remember it. The first story I ever wrote was when I was in the 2nd Grade. Our topic was about our favorite game. Mine was a game I created called Swing-On-The-Branch. After school, my mom would take my sister and I to a nearby park, which I just adored. It was home. Once, I decided to swing on the branch of a solid tree in the park. We would stand up on a bench and grab the branch, then we would jump and swing on the branch. It was fun. I decided to write about it. I had fun writing the story and wish I still had the original copy of the first draft.


What do you read for pleasure?
This is easy. I love reading teen dramas that make me bite my nails off, but when it comes to sci-fi, adventure or fantasy, I’m your girl! I do not read a lot of sci-fi books, but they are interesting. I usually go for fantasy and adventure like, for example, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. I would most likely read anything that has some magic and mystery in it. I like reading about the pioneer days of America, too. Mysteries, though, make me excited. I have a set of who knows how many American Girl Mystery books which are very precious to me.




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NEW RELEASE – The Legend of Amanda Robins




FARAXA Publishing has the pleasure of announcing the launch of its first YA book The Legend of Amanda Robins by the young Maltese-American author, Corrine Annette Zahra.

Corrine is 14 years of age, from New York City. Born of Maltese parents, she presently lives in Nadur, Gozo (Maltese Islands). She attends the Agius the Soldanis Gozo College Girls Secondary School. In 2013, Corrine became a dual prize winner in the Gozo Live Book Fair Competition, coming first in both the short story and play categories with The Vampire Slayer and Back in Time respectively. The Legend of Amanda Robins is Corrine’s first published book. The young author’s hobbies are reading and writing.


About The Legend of Amanda Robins


First things first, I shall tell you to beware! The day Amanda was born is an important day for she was sent to save human and magical kind on earth. The Legend of Amanda Robins is full of fantasy and mystery. Vampires, werewolves and many other magical creatures roam throughout this book, not to mention humans and Amanda herself. Nowadays, humans do not believe in Amanda, so I am here to show you all how real she is. Deep down, inside, Amanda Robins is an exquisite, legendary, rare and unique creature – one of a kind, even among her own kind. Since Amanda is a legend, I present this story to you, so that you decide whether it is true or not. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Amanda the Magnificent.


The foreward to the book can be found here.


The Legend of Amanda Robins is available in paperback and ebook editions from Amazon, major bookstores and directly from our eStore at FARAXA Publishing.




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Foreward to The Legend of Amanda Robins




Foreward by Rob Ricards (retired actor, BBC-TV) to The Legend of Amanda Robins by 14-year-old Corrine Annette Zahra.


The Legend of Amanda Robins by Corrine Zahra is a fast-moving, gripping account of the turmoil resulting from the destruction of Magic State, an invisible island north of Australia. Queen Amanda is forced to evacuate her land and send the inhabitants to live with humankind. Her ex-husband, Dylan, has escaped from a prison island with hoards of werewolves and launched a vicious attack. She herself goes to New York where she works in a supermarket and meets Logan, her new husband-to-be.


This fantasy tale reaches deep into the imagination of this young author who never disappoints with her inventiveness. From the streets of New York, where new Twin Towers are born, to the White House and a press conference with Barack Obama, Queen Amanda puts all her powers on display. War and intrigue permeate the pages of Ms Zahra’s book which should prove un-put-downable for lovers of magical creatures.


My recent connection with the dramatic work of Corrine Zahra warms me to her prose. Her play Back in Time had a successful showing and as much as I wish her success with her prose, I hope she will return to writing for the stage.


Rob Ricards




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JosAnn Cutajar on Bormla: A Struggling Community

JosAnn Cutajar on Bormla: A Struggling Community

An excerpt from why JosAnn Cutajar, Ph.D., carried out the landmark studyBormla: A Struggling Community, to be released within the next few days in hardback, paperback and ebook editions by FARAXA Publishing.

JosAnn speaks: The idea to conduct this study came when I married a person from Bormla, John Vella, and we decided to start living there. What John kept telling me about the city did not coincide with the received perception of the place. For example, few people know about the historical sites present in Bormla. There are Roman remains in the Cottonera Gardens which have been lately destroyed. There is the medieval part of the city with its narrow, winding streets; the neglected bastions built in the 17th century and which encircle the city. There are also the Byzantine underground chapel and historic sites from the British colonial period, such as Saint Nicholas Fort among others.

Since few people know about these historical sites in the city of Bormla, many of them have been largely neglected by the authorities and some are falling down in disrepair.  The information John used to share with me was not made available by the media.  So I decided to go on a fact-finding mission, to compare the information found in published documents with the Bormla community’s perception of themselves as a group, their perception of the space in which they lived and their level of satisfaction with the services and amenities available to them in the area. What was interesting was the number of services and amenities available in the greater Bormla area.  But although such services were available, did not mean that the community was aware of them.

A case in point is the public library, now found at Oratory Street, in the middle of a steep slope. People with mobility problems find this library hard to access. The whole collection of books and resources is housed in a single room. There is insufficient shelf space for all the books available and a good portion of these books are quite old. Some of the books in the collection were rejected by libraries abroad. A good portion of the books were donated by people from the locality, because this library – like many local libraries – do not have the financial means at their disposal to buy as many books as they need. The library is mainly used by women and young children. Only a few books are available which can be borrowed by adolescents and teenagers, since the bulk of its content is largely second-hand books. It is evident that the community is doing its utmost to increase the book stock of this library, but the available stock does not cater to the diverse groups in Bormla, in the same way.

Something else which concerns me about the city of Bormla is the number of shops which are closing down, because they are not turning a profit. As they do not offer a wide range of products, residents with access to their own means of transport tend to frequent supermarkets or shops outside the community they live in, rather than buy what they need from the local grocer. Meanwhile, those without access to their own transportation, especially older women, tend to depend on the services provided by these shops. The dwindling number of shops has a concomitant effect on the level of cultural events enacted at the local level. Feasts, concerts and sport activities depend on donations received from local entrepreneurs. When local enterprises do not make enough money, they do not donate money for such endeavours. In turn, this effects the calibre of activities organized and how much money is spent in advertising the activities in question. 


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More on Bormla: A Struggling Community

More on Bormla: A Struggling Community

JosAnn Cutajar, Ph.D., author of Bormla: A Struggling Community and senior lecturer at the University of Malta, continues speaking about this landmark study and its relevance to the international scene:

Q: Is your research study on Bormla relevant to similarly historic, but impoverished, cities in the Western world?

A: Yes, it certainly is. Where socially deprived cities are concerned, communities living in different cities come up with different coping skills to help them survive. They also come up with programs which provide residents in such communities with better quality of life, despite the lack of services available or the generally low quality of services provided in such area. In relation to both Bormla and similar cities around the world, it was interesting to note how music enabled the residents of certain socially deprived areas, especially in the United States, to ‘cope’ with life and escape a certain level of poverty.

Q: How are the results of your mixed-methods study relevant to similar cities outside the Maltese Islands? In what ways can your findings and recommendations help other cities?

A: Some of the issues raised by the residents of the city of Bormla were very similar to findings elicited by other researchers who carried out studies in other socially deprived areas of the world. For example, one similarity was the penchant of the media to underline only the negative aspects of such areas, such impoverished cities, as a form of bias and to consequently under-report the concerns of the residents.  This negative picture is often internalized by residents, significantly affecting their long-term aspirations for both themselves and their children. The residents end up feeling that they do not count in society. At the same time, they feel angry that they have been marginalized. In certain cities, such anger is mobilized by the community’s leaders to bring about welcome change, but what happens in those cities whereby such effective, grassroots leaders are not forthcoming, as in the case of the city of Bormla? Who is it going to be, to instigate effective change? Who is going to take on such responsibilities and start working to bring about change, if the community itself is not in a position to do so? These are some of the key questions and issues that I explore in depth in the book.

Q: Can you give us an example of how the residents of Bormla used to speak to you at the grocery store, when you were carrying out your field research for the study?

A: It took quite some time for the residents of Bormla to trust me as an ‘outsider.’ The people of this city are automatically suspicious of outsiders because they do not know whether the latter have internalized the received, negative perceptions of this community. When they saw me on the local media highlighting the positive aspects of Bormla, rather than just the usual negative ones, then many of the residents started opening up. They shared their great aggravation that only the ‘bad things’ which happen in their community are highlighted by the media, rather than their strengths. They were also aggrieved that such behavior by the media often undercut their legitimacy to protest, when services provided to them were not up to standard.

A good portion of the residents were highly concerned about their children and grandchildren’s future. Like all parents and grandparents around the world, including those in affluent or comparatively less impoverished cities, the people of Bormla strongly desire their children to do well in school. However, often times, they do not know how to achieve this for their children, because they both did not do that well themselves and did not have the material resources that other parents have. For example, while parents in general often help their eight-year-olds with their homework and study, many parents in Bormla have to pay others to do this and they do not have enough money at their disposal since they often work in low paid, blue collar jobs. The parents in Bormla, therefore, were very proud when their son or daughter managed to attend university. 

Grocery stores and other retail outlets were the places where you could pick up all the local gossip. At those times, it was interesting to realize that the people in the community looked out for each other. They made sure that those in need got the basic help required, whether it was in the form of food, clothes or information. 


Bormla: A Struggling Community is available in hardback, paperback and ebookeditions from all major booksellers and the eStore of FARAXA Publishing.


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