Merlin Library launches English-language imprint with saucy Zahra cult classic

Merlin Publishers have just launched their new Maltese English-language imprint, with the translation of Trevor Żahra’s cult Il-Ħajja Sigrieta tan-Nanna Ġenoveffa.

Translated into English by Rose Marie Caruana, The Secret Life of Nanna Ġenoveffa introduces Malta’s best-loved author to a much wider audience. While Maltese fiction remains Merlin’s core area of publication, the need was felt to create a small parallel imprint to introduce English speakers to Maltese literature, be it fiction originally published in Maltese and now translated into English, or be it fiction originally written in English. Merlin underlined that, in its view, fiction written by Maltese authors in English is just as ‘Maltese’ as its Maltese-language counterpart. The imprint is intended to cater for a section of the Maltese population that, for various reasons, chooses to read in English, as well as to readers less familiar with the Maltese language and to foreigners. Merlin has a number of other titles slated for publication later this year and in 2012, and to start off the imprint Żahra’s cult novel was selected. A frank and explicit account of the sexual disinhibitions of a Maltese woman living in 30s Malta – a period we tend to romanticise as one where Maltese women were supposedly subservient and docile – the Maltese original has been one of Merlin’s bestsellers for years. The translator entrusted with the delicate process is Rose Marie Caruana, whose translations include, among others, several novels by Oliver Friggieri, short stories by Immanuel Mifsud and Mario Azzopardi, and poems by Louis Briffa. Caruana is also the author of the work Translating Reality.