Raw, sharp, shocking

Merlin's latest publication - Donovan Gatt's Six-pack u sonża - pulls no punches.

It’s commonly said that new authors find it extremely hard to ‘break’ into a market, dominated as it is by the literary behemoths. Of course though, at best this is an over-simplification. And a convenient one at that. Established authors sell more, and more reliably. But a good part of this is traceable to their track record and to the hard work they’d have put in over the years. On the other hand, a look at Maltese bookshelves in recent years should be enough to reassure any budding author. A new generation of writers has come through that is refreshing the blood supply to the local literary scene. Many of today’s heavyweights were not around even just 10 years ago. The latest literary debutant is Donovan Gatt, 25 years old, whose collection of short stories Six-pack u sonża has just been published by Merlin Publishers. Gatt’s is a young new voice in the mix, merging an uncompromising use of language with a refined ear for narrative and dialogue. The direct – at times extreme – language and situations depicted by Gatt are obvious from the word go. The very first page is a surreal snapshot of Michelangelo’s David having sex with the Fat Lady. From there, it goes on to a series of stories where – when needed – explicit scenes are not edited out or glossed over. In Vitella, a story about a Juventus-loving cannibal who meets his victims through personal adverts, the protagonist gets his sexual gratification through child porn. And yet, Six-pack u sonża is not about shocking the reader. In a time of renewed censorship attempts in the local arts scene, Gatt says what he set out to say, without forced explicitness but equally without blunting the edges where necessary. Amazingly for a young, debut author, Gatt has a knack for narrative form and technique, and an understanding of the quirks of human nature. At times raw, and with scope for maturity and focus in places, Gatt’s writing is an extremely interesting addition to the local scene. Chris Gruppetta, Director of Publishing at Merlin, commented that “collections of short stories are a particularly risky genre – commercially speaking – and we are always extremely hesitant when accepting a manuscript of short stories for publication. However Six-pack u sonża was a different voice, and we firmly believe in this young author’s potential to evolve, mature and become a very exciting addition to the Merlin list of authors.” One of the stories in the collection, Il-bidwija tal-friex, has been available online for free reading, and is accessible through Merlin’s Facebook page. Six-pack u sonża is out now and is available from all bookshops in Malta and Gozo. More information is available from the publishers on [email protected]