This novel gives a taste of Maltese literature through translation, and at the same time it promotes Oliver Friggieri as a contemporary writer interested in humanity. In Maltese, the novel (set entirely in Malta) was published as L-Istramb, which is translated as The Misfit.
A young man (Baruch) on a small island (Malta) finds life very difficult. His relationship with his parents is cold and detached, and he is often seen in a state of dejection and solitude even when he is out of his home environment. He finds momentary satisfaction in his unusual attraction for a young university professor. When the latter dies suddenly, Baruch decides to leave university and enter a more secluded life at the seminary. Here routine and discipline add to his loneliness and depression, but he manages to form a clandestine friendship with another seminarist. This too is short-lived because the redoubtable rector is soon breathing down their necks. Baruch runs away from the seminary to find a girl he could love. Oppressed by solitude he meets a prostitute and shares some beautiful moments with her. He fails, however, to see the commercial side of this affair and is left disappointed as she denies him “real” love. He returns home and …
In his fiction, Friggieri discusses the characters’ potentials and incisive realities to present a contemporary aspect of human nature. So in this novel, Baruch steps out of the cemetery into a psychological desert that increases his ennui. He is launched in this psychological desert and becomes more depressed with every new experience he attempts. He finds himself being a misfit wherever he goes so that his decisions define him as the embodiment of human oddity as he feels that there is nothing he can do about his life, and so he wants to proceed into oblivion.
The Misfit contains an internal perspective which shows that the story concentrates on the character through whose consciousness the narrative is presented.
Oliver Friggieri – novelist, poet, and literary critic – is Professor of Maltese Literature at the University of Malta. He has published extensively and he is the foremost Maltese literary critic and a national author. He has published extensively and in his creative writing he attempts to interpret the sentiments and attitudes of a people living in the Central Mediterranean. Through the medium of literature Friggieri assumes the role of the conscience of a nation. He proclaims its traditional positive elements in his longer poetic works, but exposes its present negative qualities in his fiction His prose is not a weapon for war but a cry for justice and honesty. It is simple enough to retain the common readers’ attention and intriguing enough to involve their thinking. In Charles Briffa’s The Essential Oliver Friggieri: National Author of Malta (Malta University Publishing, 2012) one can find a detailed exposition of his literary achievements.
His literary publications in Maltese (some of which have been translated into English) include:
- Il-Gidba, 1977, The Lie (novel)
- L-Istramb, 1980, The Misfit (novel)
- Pawlu ta’ Malta, 1985, Paul of Malta (oratorio)
- Stejjer għal Qabel Jidlam, 1986, Koranta and Other Short Stories from Malta (short stories)
- Fil-Parlament ma Jikbrux Fjuri, 1986, Flowers Don’t Grow in Parliament (novel)
- L-Għanja ta’ Malta, 1989, The Song of Malta (poetry)
- Rewwixta, 1990, Rebellion (poetic drama)
- Fil-Gżira Taparsi Jikbru l-Fjuri, 1991, On the Island of Taparsi Flowers Bloom (short stories)
- Ġiżimin li Qatt ma Jiftaħ, 1998, Jasmine Blossoms for all Time (novel)
- Il-Poeżiji Miġbura, 2002, The Collected Poems
- Hekk Tħabbat il-Qalb Maltija, 2011, This is Malta’s Heartbeat (a trilogy of novels)
Charles Briffa is Professor of Maltese Literature and Translation Studies at the University of Malta. He has translated several literary works and his publications include a wide range of studies in the fields of language, translation, and literature in both Maltese and English.