365 by Trevor Żahra
For Trevor Żahra reading is part of his everyday diet. “It’s most beneficial … like pecking regularly at healthy morsels,” he says, and being one of Malta’s long-established authors we’d do well to heed his lifestyle advice.
His new book 365, is the perfect recipe for that. The book content page lists 365 days of the year from January 1 to December 31, and next to each date, there is a short story. January 1 is Il-Walz; December 31 is Fjuri taz-Żejt and in between beginning and the end, each and every date has a particular story attached to it.
The stories are concise and light. None would take you more than 15 minutes to read. “They are just like little snacks, really,” he says.
Żahra has spent every single day for last three years “exploring and exploiting” story poten- tials. All 365 stories have an autobiographical strand, he claims. Although there are some more than others; several snippets which did not make it to his autobiography: Il-Ġenn li Jżommni f’Sikkti (The Madness that Keeps Me Sane) in 2008, have their way here.
But make no mistake this is not non-fiction. This is Trevor Żahra at his story-telling best. “I can’t imagine reality without fiction,” he says, quoting author Philip Pullman who believes that “after nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Each of his 365 stories is a journey of unpredictability and delightfully unexpected perspectives – all somehow having the goal of casting light on what it means to be alive.
This is not a collection of pretend people and made up places; but wondrous and pro- voking paths, which always lead us to see life more vividly. His is a delightful conglomeration of characters and situations from everyday life: a mix of humour and wisdom as he reflects on society and human behaviour.
He dedicated the book to his two sisters and brother, who were his first readers. “In their encouragement and enthusiasm I found sheer inspiration. So it’s high time that I show them my gratitude through this small dedication.”
He ends his December 31 fictional story with one of his characters saying something quite telling: “And I think I won’t write anymore”.
Is Żahra trying to pass on a message? Is he wrapping up his a half a century of gripping writing? “I have to say that at time the idea did cross my mind.” However, do not fret - he’s al- ready got two more projects in the pipeline.
Merlin Publishers Director, Chris Gruppetta said: “Żahra and Merlin are synonymous so this collection of short stories is special for us because he is our greatest treasure. Any new Żahra book is an event, but this is something else: it’s a gorgeous oeuvre that sits like a crown atop a lifetime of Żahra’s literary career.”
365 – which comes only in hardback – is a thousand-pager but it won’t be a strain on the biceps, because special paper was used to make it as lightweight as possible. It is available from all bookshops or online directly from www.merlinpublishers.com