‘The whole book is a gem’

Roberta Bajada chooses Malta’s most iconic author.
Roberta Bajada. Inset: Trevor Zahra’s Is-Seba’ Trongiet Mewwija.

Roberta Bajada is the local author behind popular books like Termini u Kundizzjonijiet Japplikaw and Arklekkin Isfar, both published by Merlin Publishers. Here she explains how Trevor Zahra’s Is-Seba’ Trongiet Mewwija, also published by Merlin, inspired her love for writing.

My favourite book by another Maltese author: Is-Seba’ Tronġiet Mewwija by Trevor Zahra must be my favourite book written in the Maltese language. 

It’s about: It narrates the epic adventure of two siblings, Vira and Toninu, and their cynical cat, Barbanġ, as they navigate different realms and timelines on a bid to find the ‘seba’ tronġiet’ (legendary grapefruits filled with magic juice). Packed with memorable instances and characters, the novel even features cameo appearances from the author’s own repertiore, such as the sisterly duo Kunċett and Marinton, as well as the iconic Fenek l-Aħmar (the Red Rabbit). 

The thing that fascinates me most about it is: Something that has always fascinated me is the ease with which Trevor Zahra communicates his beautiful, intricate vision to the reader. As a child, I practically grew up with most of Zahra’s books and characters, which fuelled my imagination and inspired me to take up writing from an early age. 

My favourite quote from it is: The whole book is a gem, but I must admit that the scenes with Barbanġ’s comments and antics were my favourite.

It’s helped shape my writing/thinking because: Novels such as this one have time and time again confirmed my love for magic realism, especially the kind that appeals to all ages. Zahra draws no boundary between prose and poetry; the beautiful blending of both encourages more playfulness and experimentation with the language.

I’m currently working on: At present, I’m working on another stand-alone novel, this time targeted towards a more mature audience than one I wrote for in the past. Featuring an abandoned theme park in a secluded town in Texas, this one should go down a treat with fans of darker fiction bearing that retro, steampunk touch. 

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