Pierre J. Mejlak’s award-winning collection gets English translation

Pierre J. Mejlak's Dak li l-lejl ihallik tghid translated into 'Having Said Goodnight' by Clare Vassallo and Antoine Cassar thanks to EU Prize. 

7 April 2015, 7:48am
Each of his literary outings has been a huge hit, both with critics but also – especially – with readers who even when not fans of Maltese literature flocked to his inimitable style of evocative, sensual and haunting writing. Pierre J. Mejlak is possibly one of the most unique writers on the contemporary Maltese scene.

His 2011 success Dak li l-lejl iħallik tgħid went on to win Malta’s National Book Award, and last year received the highest European honour for a work of literature: the European Union Prize for Literature, only the second time this prestigious prize has been awarded to a Maltese author.

And now, to make this oeuvre available to a much wider audience, Merlin Publishers have just released the book in English translation. Having said goodnight has been translated by Antoine Cassar and Clare Vassallo. It contains all the short stories of the original, together with a surprise for all Mejlak fans: three previously unpublished stories: The ironing board, The crow and The parrot’s cry.

In trademark Mejlak style, the stories move between past and future, centre and periphery, real and imaginary. A woman is overjoyed at the news her husband has been found dead. A crow breaks into a young couple’s flat, smashing perceptions and assumptions, and a dying father sends his son on a journey to meet an old flame. A young boy builds friendships with burnt matchsticks and a widow makes her husband’s manuscript her own.

The rights to Having said goodnight have been bought by publishers in various European countries, where translations of the book will be published in 2016. And, truly making this one of the most international of Maltese books ever, Having said goodnight is being launched at Waterstones in Brussels, on World Book Day, as well as being celebrated at a dedicated event in London. Meanwhile, the Department of Translation Studies within the Faculty of Arts of the University of Malta is hosting Mejlak and celebrating the English translation of his work during an event on campus.

In the words of the jury of the European Union Prize for Literature: “This is a book about storytelling, not only as a form of pleasure that is shared between writer and reader but more importantly as a gift that’s given with love and needs love to be appreciated.”

Having said goodnight is available from all bookshops, and online directly from www.merlinpublishers.com