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Pierre J. Mejlak becoming the youngest Maltese writer to win the National Book Award (November, 2006)




A selection of short stories in English translation

I went to see her, pa
(...) The last time I visited him, he didn't look so good. My younger sister had just left, and as usual, she had kept on harping about how he seemed to be getting worse. I felt I should keep things light and so I asked him about the women who had marked his life. That's how we ended up talking about the Spanish woman. He used to enjoy talking about the women he had known. In those moments he would seem to forget his pain, his eyes would sparkle and suddenly focus. Because since he had gotten ill and been taken to the hospital, the women he had loved during his life had become for him a photo album, which he never tired of thumbing through. And beneath every photo there were another fifty hidden. [read more]

The Ambassador
There wasn’t a huge crowd for the funeral, but it was big enough to - in the unlikely event of the church exploding - throw the whole country into a massive political crisis. Apart from the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, there was the Cabinet, tens of MPs, and the entire diplomatic corps. The ambassador was loved by many, for even as she climbed rung by rung the diplomatic ladder, she never lost her characteristic bonhomie. She would always have a tale ready for the telling; even if you were to bump into her accidentally, she would still tell you a quick story. And stories – after a distinguished career moving from one embassy to the next – she certainly did not lack. [read more]

Your last summer, Amy
I’ve been thinking - now that I’ve decided to join you - whether it’ll be awkward, meeting you again after all this time. Well, a bit yes, at first, of course. But I’m sure we’ll quickly break the ice again, and perhaps find a quiet corner where I can tell you all about your last summer, Amy, and the months that led up to it. Actually, when I get there will I find you immediately? I’d imagine it’ll be quite a chaotic scene: lots of people arriving, many others waiting for them, the usual arrivals lounge cacophony of hugs, kisses, tears, suitcases and stuff. [read more]

Nuria Angels Barrera
Holding, for the first time, a copy of her book, and seeing her name on the cover – a flourish of silver trumpets of varying sizes framing it – she felt an unfamiliar shiver of excitement. A shiver – she assumed – not unlike what one felt when accepting a longed-for prize. Or, perhaps, close to what mothers felt when presented with their newborn, freshly washed. Or even, rummaging through her personal experience, the feeling that her friends – years ago, now – must have felt while smooching with their dreamy boyfriends outside the school gates, even as she would look on and long for the day she too would be smoochable material. And on the tram-ride home, sitting right between two younger women, Nuria Angels Barrera allowed herself a smile as she opened Els dos Trompetistes and began reading the prologue. [read more]

I want to call out to Samirah
No. I'm not dead. And I'm not going to die. I'm sure I'm not going to die. Because I'm still conscious. My brain is working. So I'm ok. And now the pain has receded to the point where I can hardly feel it. I'm fine. I'm just a bit dizzy, and extremely tired. And I'm a little cold. But it's that comfortable kind of cold, the kind you feel when you're running a fever, climb into bed and snuggle up under the covers, hugging yourself, with your thighs against your chest and your lips stuck to your knees. [read more]

The Madonna round Evelina's
He had met her at the Hungry Duck, in the heart of Moscow, where the ladies can drink as much as they like free of charge until half eleven at night. The two of them happened to be at the bar. She with a Hanky-Panky, he a Vodka Martini. Their eyes fell first on the glasses; then, they looked at each other and realised that they were, kind of, alone. And it's astonishing how, even in the freeze of Moscow, one word leads to another. And the following morning, he was a little surprised for as he was leaving her tiny apartment, Evelina hinted that she would like to meet him again. And so they did. [read more]

He'd never seen such bizarre, gawky seeds as those before. They were like roasted peanuts split in two. Almost everyone thought they were coffee beans. "Sambuca memories, eh?" "Yep. Sambuca memories," he would routinely answer, whenever someone nosed around the shelves in the lounge and spotted the three seeds placed together on one of the ledges. And each had their own particular story related to Sambuca, and it wasn't long before he'd heard them all. [read more]

At Livia's Bar
This time she's building a city. The first city after eleven islands in a row, now gathered together in the soft red folder which, when her father goes out for a coffee in the evenings and she finds herself alone, she takes out of the drawer beside her bed, and from which she pulls out one of the maps and descends somewhere upon it. [read more]


              ©2006 Pierre J Mejlak. Site by: briangrech