A book launch is always a special moment: for the publisher, the author and the fans. However when the new publication is by the most successful author in Malta and the Merlin author par exellence, Trevor Żahra, then the anticipation is much greater. In fact even in the midst of the pandemic, when everyone was locked indoors, Merlin Publishers and Trevor Żahra still found a way to launch Żahra’s new collection of short stories, Sempreviva. It was back in 2020 when this launch was organised online, with everyone following in front of their screens from their shelter of their homes.
Now that we have reattained the luxury – because we have come to appreciate that luxury it is! – to be able to meet physically, it was with unusual excitement that the book launch for Żahra’s newest book was launched before a physically present audience. Every new book by Żahra is, of course, a remarkable literary event. And so a few weeks ago the launch of his new book Sjesta was celebrated with a packed-to-the-gills hall.
This short story collection, newly penned by Żahra, is truly a gem for all those who love to get lost in the tales and enchantment of reading. As we unravel the stories of Sjesta, we feel we are entering that sjesta time of day, when in the peak heat of the summer sun, life pauses a little and takes a nap. When after a restorative hour life awakens, the sun is a tad less strong … and all the dreams started during the afternoon nap can then be continued with eyes wide open and become reality.
Żahra is well known for his absolute attention to detail when writing – reworking, editing and tweaking till the very last. And that is indeed the reason why he is the brilliant author he is today! As he himself admits, “I do not believe in divine inspiration falling from the heavens. That is just an outdated romantic idea. I believe in commitment, work and discipline. I continue to edit and correct till the very last moment. Sometimes, something as small and insignificant as a comma, can brighten the poorest of expressions. A badly placed adjective can ruin the rhythm of a sentence.”
Sjesta includes a variety of stories. One, for example, is about a person we are not even sure really existed, another about a young girl portrayed in a painting, yet another about a certain Freddie who had the habit of purchasing every book he set his eyes on, only to read a few paragraphs from each. There are a total of 36 short stories … maybe to be read a bit at a time after the day’s siesta.
Sjesta is available from all leading bookshops or directly from merlinpublishers.com