Immanuel Mifsud’s Extraordinary Feat

Comment for Teodor Reljic of Malta Today after Immanuel Mifsud’s Fl-Isem tal-Missier (u tal-Iben) received the EU Prize fro Literature.

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Fl-Isem tal-Missier (u tal-Iben) is an extraordinary feat, an absolute first in Maltese literature: not quite a biography or autobiography, not quite a diary or essay… It straddles the line between poetry and prose, between confession and family psychology, between manhood and feminism. It’s a first-person narrative inspired by (and under the guise of) a second-person narration. It refuses to be classified, to be forced into a literary genre or tradition. In this sense, it is also a text about literature itself, a metanarrative. It prompts us to question the nature of literature itself, something that much literature worth its salt will do.

I’m not sure it is “representative of contemporary Maltese literature,” as you put it. It is certainly representative of some of the best contemporary Maltese literature being written. Because it is both poetically and intellectually stimulating.

Frankly, I think it is more the book itself than the award that “will give hope to up-and-coming Maltese writers,” as you put it. Awards are funny creatures: sometimes they are more concerned with themselves than with the prize winners. But the great thing about them is that they draw attention to works that may have escaped the attention of the media and the general public. With its poetic flair, intellectual honesty and great insights human nature, Fl-Isem tal-Missier (u tal-Iben) deserves all the attention it can get.
Dr. Adrian Grima teaches Maltese Literature at the University of Malta

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