Lara Calleja, born in 1988, was raised in Marsaskala, a once quaint seaside village in Malta that is now overshadowed by apartment blocks. Having graduated with honours in Near Eastern studies in 2010, Calleja worked for several years in tourism. Her debut novel, Lucy Min?, was published in 2016 and shortlisted for Malta’s National Book Prize. Calleja then worked as a part-time librarian for 6 years, finding an outlet for her love of books. She loved organising yearly literary events and she managed to upgrade the collection of the very small library that employed her, leading to an increase in readership at a time when use of Malta’s public libraries was diminishing. Having continued to write during this time, in January 2020, Lara left her full-time job in tourism to start her career as a freelance writer and translator. In the following months, she published her second book, Kissirtu Kullimkien (You’ve Destroyed Everything), which won her the National Book Prize for best emerging author. In the summer of 2020, Lara was commissioned to write her first-ever theatrical script. Her play Taralalla will be staged at Valletta’s art hub Spazju Kreattiv in October 2021.
EUPL Year 2021 | Winning Book
(YOU’VE DESTROYED EVERYTHING)
‘You’ve Destroyed Everything’ presents a series of short stories, focusing on typical local characters who are woven into a narrative that goes to the very heart of Malta’s political issues. The narrator changes with each story: an unrequited lover, a cat who has lost its owner, a nostalgic old woman who has an unusual friendly relationship with a bus driver, and a traumatised migrant who recounts the harshness of his home country, his traumas and the hostility he has experienced since arriving on the island. The tone changes, reflecting the changes in the stories and characters. Some stories are kind and sad, others harsh but hopeful, and some simply tell tales of helplessness. Political themes emerge naturally from the context of the characters’ experiences, i.e., political issues such as over-construction are strongly affecting people’s daily lives in Malta. ‘You’ve Destroyed Everything’’s last story ends on a hopeful note, as the narrator – a young aspiring farmer – gazes at the sky and sees in it a comforting reminder that things will inevitably change.
EUPL | Video
Organisation: ： Merlin Publishers