From Atlantic Salt to Saharan Sand
Ebejer malta11
Die frauen von andros1
Miern agus meabe1111111111
Immanuel Mifsud, Malta

Since its launch in the winter of last year, Transcript has brought writers and books from across the European spectrum to the attention of its readers. In this summer issue, rich in colour, we continue to paint an alternative picture of European writing.

Complementing our feature on the 'Islands of the North' (Transcript 2), in which we rode the tide to Iceland, Shetland, Orkney, Scilly and Åland, we now turn to the Islands of the South. This the second leg of our island odyssey takes us to Malta, Cyprus, Crete and on to Mallorca.

Political developments in both Malta and Cyprus have brought these two islands into focus in recent months. Malta, home to under half a million people, voted in April to join the European Union. Maltese will soon become the first Semitic language native to a member state. Malta's second official language, English, was the preferred medium of Francis Ebejer in his novels, A Wreath of Maltese Innocents (1958), and Wild Spell of Summer (1968) for example, while Immanuel Mifsud and Oliver Friggieri write predominantly in the indigenous tongue. Discover the work of all three in these pages.

Change is afoot is Cyprus where the respective Turkish- and Greek-speaking communities north and south began a process of depolarisation this year as the green line which has separated them becomes permeable. Niki Marangou describes crossing the green line in 'Nicosia', an article which owes its title to the border town of that name.

Mallorca and Crete have found their way before into Transcript's pages. In our special Catalan issue, we spoke of Mallorca's Antònia Vicens, while The Life of Ismail Ferik pasha by Rhea Galanaki of Crete was featured in Transcript 1. In this issue we present two further women writers, Maria Antònia Oliver (Crineres de foc) (Manes of Fire) (1985), and Ioanna Karystiani whose novel, The Women of Andros has brought her success in Germany as well as in her native Greece.

Maltese, Turkish: these are two of the languages spoken and written in places visited in Transcript 5. Another, Basque, completes a threesome of non-Indo-European sisters. Whereas the genealogies of Maltese and Turkish hold no great mystery, the derivation of the Basque language, perhaps descended from the speech of neolithic times, remains unknown.

Basque literature, on the other hand, is a comparatively recent and well-documented phenomenon. In Transcript 5, we invite you to learn more by reading Mari Jose Olaziregi Alustiza's 'The Awakening', a title taken from the poetry of Bernardo Atxaga, one of six writers whose work we include in our mini-anthology of contemporary work, others being Miren Agur Meabe, Kirmen Uribe and Rikardo Arregi Diaz De Heredia.

In Transcript 5 we bring you mediterranean islands, and the sound of distinctive tongues where Europe merges with Atlantic salt and Saharan sand. We hope that reading Transcript will lead you to acquire some of the books we feature.

Diarmuid Johnson

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