Murad Shubert | Going to raw and emotional places

Maltese-Moroccan writer Murad Shubert, winner of the poetry section for ‘Imbagħad il-Qiegħ’ speaks to Laura Calleja about wanting to explore human vulnerability within his work, as well as the intense emotion that comes with receiving an accolade

Murad Shubert
Murad Shubert

Could you tell us about your trajectory as a writer or Researcher?

My writing path began when I was introduced to the world of books and reading at an early age, and my interest gradually developed into reading classic philosophical and literary works. This allow me to gain a deeper understanding of human thought through my interaction with the ideas of writers and thinkers throughout the years.

Over time, I began to express my own thoughts through writing. I started writing thoughts, texts, and articles, and continued to develop my writing skills. I was influenced by my readings and personal experiences and began to discover a unique writing style that expressed my own vision of the world.

This path has evolved over time and my efforts have continued to expand my reading range and explore new areas of literature and philosophy. There were many sources of inspiration and influences, and this contributed to shaping my intellectual and literary development over the years.

What was the process of crafting your award-winning book like?

I never approach a blank page unprepared. Most of my writings take shape in my mind first, allowing me to cultivate a mostly clear vision of what I intend to write. This preliminary phase is rich with brainstorming, where I delve into

selecting a compelling subject or crafting a unique story. I invest time in researching, exploring various themes, and carving out a distinctive angle for the topic at hand. The actual writing commences with the first draft, whose primary aim is to transfer all my conceptualized ideas onto paper. This phase is undoubtedly the most time-consuming and demanding. Following the completion of the first draft, I begin the meticulous process of revision. This involves multiple rounds of edits to refine the language, enhance narrative flow, develop character arcs, and ensure the work is both engaging and coherent.

Often, this phase requires restructuring sections, introducing new content, or eliminating unnecessary elements. Receiving feedback from my close readers is crucial; their insights are invaluable in highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of my work that I might overlook. Incorporating this feedback, I engage in further revisions, with the aid of professional editor who specialize in developmental, grammatical, and line editing. This iterative process of writing, revising, and refining is vital in transforming initial ideas into polished, compelling narratives.

How did it feel to win the National Book Prize in 2023?

It came on a time when I was experiencing vulnerability. I cried and felt an immense sense of pride, knowing that my work has been acknowledged as outstanding. It brought to me feelings of gratitude towards the people who have supported me throughout my journey in writing, in this beautiful language. Their support was meaningful to me in a creative field where doubt and rejection are common.

Who are some of your favourite Maltese authors workingToday?

Maltese literature is rich, but unfortunately, it requires raising the level of reading in order to delve deeper into this precious treasure. There are many distinguished writers from whom I learned a lot, and I continue to learn from them. I mention, for example, the collection 'Cities' written by Norbert Bugeja, which served as a booster to diving into the depths of this beautiful language. And yet, the writings of Gioele Galea, Henry Holland ‘l-artist tat-trapiż, and Frans Sammut 'Samurai' remain my favourites.

What would you say is the defining characteristic of this poetry collection? What unites it?

The defining characteristic of my poetry collection is its deep engagement with human vulnerability and the existential conditions that shape human lives. This collection is united by themes of love, loss, and the often harsh realities of the human condition. Each poem, through its unique lens—whether it is the intimate struggles of personal relationships, the societal impacts of capitalism, the introspective guilt like in 'My Sin', or the stark horrors of war and displacement—explores the fragility of human existence and the search for meaning and identity in a transient world.

'Imbagħad il-qiegħ' delves into the raw emotional states of its subjects, revealing both the beauty and pain of their experiences. It probes the depths of human emotions, confronting the often uncomfortable truths about our lives and the systems that govern them. It juxtaposes the personal with the political, the individual with the collective, suggesting that our most private experiences are intricately connected to broader social and political structures. Through this lens, the collection invites reflection on how external conditions influence our internal worlds, making a poignant statement about the universal struggle for understanding, connection, and survival in an unpredictable world.

What’s next for you?

In my way of writing, I work on various projects. Currently, I find myself particularly excited about the nearing completion of my short story collection.

READ ALSO: Loranne Vella | Shedding light on the complexity of feminism

In collaboration with the National Book Council, MaltaToday will be interviewing the winners of the 2023 National Book Prize and Terramaxka Prize for children and young adults. More information regarding the awards can be found at