Remember Loranne Vella’s dystopian tale of social media gone wrong and extremism galore? The year in which Magna Mater is set is NOW, and the writer’s prognosis was rather horrifyingly on point.
Magna Mater , Merlin Publishers’ 2011 Young Adult novel, is set in 2020. And here’s the scary thing. The themes of Loranne Vella’s novel – climate change, social media, far-right extremism, online and offline bullying – have only become more relevant in the intervening nine years.
Magna Mater is set in a Malta plagued by extreme weather, where its young protagonist, Elizabeth, is on the threshold not only of adulthood but also of self-knowledge through a reckoning with her family’s past.
With increasing urgency, she needs to discover the truth about her childhood friend, starting with whether he ever actually existed.
The skatepark at Tal-Qroqq is a prominent location in Magna Mater . It sets the stage for the rivalry between two skate gangs. What distinguishes them is much more than a different skating style, but a radically different outlook on life, and as the planet creaks towards its uncertain future, our young protagonists must choose their side.
Now, those who haven’t yet read Magna Mater have the opportunity to follow the tale via YouTube episodes, which will also be available as audio podcasts from the usual providers. Each episode will be published on the date in which the events of the chapter take place, from 13 January to 19 June and will be read out by Vella herself.
Brussels-based Maltese writer, translator and performer Loranne Vella is the co-author of the fantasy novels The Fiddien Trilogy, the author of MagnaTM Mater, Rokit, and several short stories, including the recently published short story collection Mill-bieb ’il ġewwa.
She has translated a series of children’s books into Maltese and has won various local literary awards both for her original works, including the National Book Prize for Rokit (2018), and her translations. She is co-founder of Aleateia Theatre Group (1992), and in 2017 launched Barumbara Collective – a performance art project which focuses on performative events in collaboration with various artists in Malta and abroad.
To commemorate this anniversary, Merlin Publishers are offering the novel Magna Mater at a special 20% discount from their website.
Interested in knowing more about local literature for young adults and kids? Check out these two books that will definitely get the kiddos reading or this one, that features a spelling bee competition.
Or hey, why not check out a book written by yours truly about growing up in Valletta, Beltin: Stejjer Minn Nies Minsija.
If you prefer to read about theatre, this upcoming Oscar Wilde piece at the Manoel should be right up your street.