Immanuel Mifsud

An Author of Consequence
Mark Vella on Stejjer ta' Nies Koroh and Il-Ktieb tas-Sibt Filghaxija by Immanuel Mifsud, one of the few Maltese authors who has managed to paint a true picture of Malta in the nineties.

(This review was first published in the spring 1997 issue of Elegance Magazine and is reproduced by the kind permission of the editors. It has been adapted by Transcript.)

Immanuel Mifsud's Il-Ktieb tas-Sibt Filghaxija (1993), promotes him as the sharpest observer of Maltese society today: muted tones and short clipped sentences reveal life at its most ritual and monotonous. Characters lose all identity in the humdrum of the urban sprawl and become prowlers in a night of virtual promises but little real fulfilment.

Reality is presented through an array of the commonest people: the compulsive actions of a chain-smoker; the mundane rituals of an unsatisfied couple preparing for their umpteenth pizza night; the clock ticking away.

Mifsud's characters have been developing since Stejjer ta' Nies Koroh (1991), where the author unearths new categories of suffering individuals, no longer fighting quixotically against a world that does not understand, but tolerating themselves in a world which is the way it is. Mifsud is no moralist. Man is alone, and Malta's just realised it.

Mifsud has the mettle of a responsible and coherent author. His cultured approach, reflected in the quotations that litter Il-Ktieb tas-Sibt Filghaxija, from Kundera to Octavio Paz and Saint-Exupery, bears the mark of a literary product. His technique is worth noting: neither highbrow nor inaccessible, it follows the Maltese kwadrettizmu tradition, where essential sketches of situations, feelings, states of mind relay an intensity which lingers in the mind. Mifsud does not tell stories: his works are impressions with the thinnest of plots.

Mifsud's work is establishing itself as a watershed in Maltese literature. He has impressively captured the sign of the times.

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