Sunday, 27 June 2021

mill-bieb ’il ġewwa by Loranne Vella


mill-bieb ’il ġewwa

by Loranne Vella

mill-bieb ’il ġewwa is a peculiarly Maltese expression which refers to whatever lies within a house or whatever happens “behind the front door” of a residence.  The title of this debut short story collection could therefore be translated as Behind closed doors or, as the author herself suggests, rendered more freely as “take a look inside (me)”.   This aptly conveys the intimate nature of Loranne Vella’s stories – most of them short vignettes bordering on flash fiction.  They introduce us to a varied cast of characters and their innermost thoughts and desires, their most secret foibles, lusts and scars: young women seeking to assert themselves in a male-centric world; one-time male rebels who are now reduced to the frailty of old age; nostalgics coming to terms with their memories.    Reading these stories feels like dipping into a diary.  Yet, the protagonists often remain unnamed, an enigma even unto themselves: Jien ħaġa moħġaġa, imma m’intix se taqta’ min jien … (“I’m a riddle but you’ll never guess who I am…”)  Vella writes in Maltese and remains well involved in Maltese literary and theatrical events, although she lives abroad. This experience is reflected in those stories which speak of the Maltese diaspora, particularly the generation which left the island’s shores to work in EU institutions.  The poetic, impressionistic nature of these pieces is complemented by artistic black and white photographs by Zvezdan Reljić.  

mill-bieb ’il ġewwa was a finalist in the 2020 Premju Nazzjonali tal-Ktieb (Malta’s National Book Prize).  Originally published by Ede Books, it will soon be issued by new London-based micro publisher Praspar Press, in an English translation by Kat Storace, bringing these little gems to a wider readership.

Paperback144 pages
Published 2019 by Ede Books

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