Immanuel Mifsud

1 L-Istejjer Strambi ta' Sara Sue Sammut
This is an article by Maria Grech Ganado. It first appeared in The Sunday Times (Malta), 22 December 2002, and has been adapted by Transcript.

Immanuel Mifsud's new prose work L-Istejjer Strambi ta' Sara Sue Sammut surprises his readers with a collection of stories which covers a whole range of human experience and demonstrates a very skilful and mature command of various tones.

Perhaps the most surprising for Mifsud's regular readers were the sketches of Sara Sue's first exploits, ranging from babyhood to her mid-20s in the Malta of the eighties. The background was recreated through the eyes of a bright, energetic, working class girl.

This story is perhaps the best he has written to date. It reaps the fruits of his early experiments, depicting the oneliness of those who turn to machines rather than to flesh and blood spouses for comfort.

Another story which won acclaim in Paris two summers ago and which has already been read in French and English translation before appearing in its original Maltese in this collection, is 'Rubi', another moving tale, told in dead-pan narrative, of a character stuck in the rut of orthodoxy while he dreams of the wild, free girl he knew in his youth, and whom he unconsciously continues to search for in the women he tries to fill his increasingly stagnant and lethargic life with.

'Sara Sue' is a clever, funny, provoking social satire which is as entertaining as its highly endearing protagonist. But in the rest of the stories one finds a sensitivity which is sometimes painful, a longing for love and beauty that is sometimes tangible, as in 'Vjolini', written over a long period of time.

In direct contrast, then, we have horrible brutality and repulsive violence in 'Ultras'. I enjoyed the economy of 'Mobile', which plays with the diachronic and synchronic aspects of sameness through three portraits of basically the same person in different garb. The impersonality of this story is almost frightening but effectively sums up in only three pages a major malaise of our times.

Mifsud insists he writes out of vanity. I have learnt to pay very little attention to what Mifsud says - it changes all the time! But if you enjoy reading good literature in Maltese, I'd advise you to do what I do. Pay a great deal of attention to what Immanuel Mifsud writes!

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