Maltese Literature

The eminent Maltesse literary critic and author Oliver Friggieri provides this historical overview of Maltese literature: Main Trends in the History of Maltese Literature.

Inizjamed has published six small books in a series of Contemporary Maltese Literature in Translation (Inizjamed-Midsea, 2005). The books are available from Midsea or Sierra Book Distributors (who send the books by post or deliver them to any address on the Maltese Islands). The books, with a cover designed by Pierre Portelli, are selections of poetry by Stanley Borg, Norbert Bugeja, Maria Grech Ganado, Adrian Grima, and Simone Inguanez, and short stories by Clare Azzopardi.

transcript_logo-1A number of sites on the internet provide good examples of contemporary Maltese poetry and prose, which is mostly written in Maltese, the national language of Malta. The best two are probably:


A special issue of Transcript on Maltese literature, edited by Dr Marco Galea and Dr Albert Gatt of the University of Malta. The translations are in  English but some of the works are also available in French and German. In their editorial, they write that:

immanuel-mifsud_in-the-nameThe partial eclipse of the sixties generation has meant that a younger group of writers has come to the fore. In poetry, the impact of Immanuel Mifsud and Adrian Grima (both born in the late nineteen sixties) cannot be underestimated. Both have been publishing for decades now and have opened doors for younger authors, including Norbert Bugeja and Antoine Cassar. Perhaps the greatest difference has been the emergence of a good number of women poets, such as Simone Inguanez, Nadia Mifsud and Simone Galea, who have created a niche for feminine/feminist writing that has in turn attracted new readers. In this connection, the figure of Maria Grech Ganado is of particular interest: although she belongs to an older generation, she was not a member of the Moviment of the sixties, publishing her first poetry collection in 1999, since when she has been an important catalyst for many younger women poets.

In the case of fiction, the situation is not so straightforward. Immanuel Mifsud, together with the younger Clare Azzopardi, Pierre J. Meilak and Walid Nabhan, have produced ground-breaking works of short fiction, but have so far shied away from tackling the novel. Offerings from other writers in this genre have been few and far between. The upshot is a curious situation where contemporary prose writing in Maltese is dominated by the short form, while the novel continues to be dominated by figures such as Frans Sammut (another member of the Moviment, who died in 2011), Alfred Sant and Trevor Żahra.

Another good source, edited by bilingual poet Maria Grech Ganado, is a special 2008 feature on Maltese literature of The Drunken Boat, with short introductory notes by the editor herself, and by Dr Bernard Micallef and Dr Adrian Grima, who teach Maltese Literature at the University of Malta.

      I think that if we look at the Maltese scene now, we can state with conviction that never has there been so much literary ferment in the Maltese islands since the sixties. The sixties had broken with the themes and influence of the first wave of national, religious and sentimental love which dogged the first appearance of poetry in the Maltese language — and had replaced it with a political and existential wave, inspired by the rest of Europe, which addressed the former themes from a confrontational perspective.

Lyrikline-logo_squareAn issue of Transcript focussing on Mediterranean Poets is available here. It includes works by Simone Inguangez and Adrian Grima.

To listen to Maltese poetry in Maltese read by the poet visit lyrikline.orgAntoine Cassar and Adrian Grima

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