The Malta Independent 20 July 2019, Saturday

‘Stessi’ by Matthew Schembri

Sunday, 9 September 2018, 12:00 Last update: about 12 months ago

On his 13th birthday, Sven gets the present he's always wished for: his uncle's purple camera.

His uncle, eternally radiating health and youth, carried this camera round his neck day and night, and Sven was forever fascinated by it and by its strange magnetic pull.

However, the boy has yet to discover that this is not a camera like any other. It has a mind of its own. It keeps popping up in his school bag, even when he's sure he didn't pack it; it takes selfies of Sven when he's sure he didn't press any buttons; it pushes all his friends away.


Then things start getting weird. Sven becomes almost a super human: no fall, no bump, no crash seems to leave any impact on his body. So how is it then, that the selfie pictures show a completely different Sven. What is happening? What is his uncle hiding from him? What obscure mysteries is this camera hiding? Who is the 13th owner of the camera and what power does that give him?

Stessi, written by young budding author Matthew Schembri, won the first prize in the Young Adult Literature competition organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the National Book Council. This is Schembri's first novel, although he is not new to the creative scene.

This year he won the Young Artist of the Year by the Malta Council for the Arts, and in 2016 he won a place at the Virginia Centre for the Creative Arts in the United States, as a resident artist. It is in Virginia, in fact that he wrote the first draft of Stessi.

With Gothic hints reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray, this novel will go down a treat with young teenagers. It is ideal for all those who enjoyed books like Vinkulari and Termini u Kundizzjonijiet Japplikaw.

'Stessi' is available from all leading bookshops or directly online from

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