Sant’s (bloody) panorama of Maltese society… now in English!

Alfred Sant translates his own fifth novel - the bestselling 'L-Għalqa tal-Iskarjota’ - into English.

The Maltese language blockbuster ‘L-Għalqa tal-Iskarjota’ by Alfred Sant was published in 2009 and sold out in a few weeks. There was a huge demand for the novel to be reissued but the book has been out of stock at most stores for around six weeks following its publication date.

It was Sant’s fifth novel. He had first come to attention in the sixties with his first novel ‘L-Ewwel Weraq tal-Bajtar’. 10 years ago, his long novel ‘La Bidu, La Tmiem’ was also quickly sold out and still remains out of print.

Instead of being reissued, ‘L-Għalqa tal-Iskarjota’ is being published as a completely new edition, in an English translation done by the author himself – in what is probably a first in local publishing history.

The Iscariot Field, which has acquired a cult following – with some even clamouring for a sequel – describes how a mausoleum dating from the Phoenician era is being desecrated in the most disgusting manner.

This leads to extremely strange consequences that attract the attention of the European Union’s highest authorities in Brussels. Meanwhile, preparations are under way for the production of a television programme on site at the field named Iscariot which is located close to the hidden mausoleum. The climax, when it finally crashes down, is a bloody one.

Despite its outward harshness, The Iscariot Field is written as a black comedy. “It’s an addictive page turner that had me laughing out loud,” wrote fellow novelist Guze Stagno, while blogger Toninu enthused on how Sant “brilliantly merges science-fiction with ghost horror.”

Vampires, the problems caused by obesity, farcical sexual encounters, drug trafficking, life at the University, corruption – along with other themes – all form part of the plot which presents a panorama of contemporary Maltese society. A literary critic praised The Iscariot Field for the manner by which all the strands of the story come together in “an insanely cruel climax.”

With a totally new presentation that sets it apart from the first edition, The Iscariot Field also has a striking cover design by Pierre Portelli. It is being sold at most book stores and other outlets for the price of €12.

It has not been ruled out that The Iscariot Field will meet with the same fate as its original, Maltese language edition.

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