The Malta Independent 17 February 2020, Monday

Alfred Sant: The Author

Malta Independent Monday, 8 June 2009, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

Alfred Sant and literature

“Literature gives you the opportunity to explore society and allows you to take a look at it from various viewpoints while you remain connected with reality,” Alfred Sant said. In his opinion literature has to be enjoyable. “If a story is not entertaining, it dies,” he said. Alfred Sant wrote 13 books on a myriad of subjects experimenting with different styles and genres. Some of his books were reissued twice, due to their popularity.

His first novel was L-ewwel weraq tal-bajtar printed in 1968. The novels Bejgh u xiri, Silg fuq Kemmuna and La bidu, la tmiem were written over the years. Dr Sant’s Kwart ta’ mija, a collection of short stories, was published in 1995. Alfred Sant also published a collection of plays. The first one was titled Min hu Evelyn Costa? Subsequently he published two other play collections Fid-Dell tal-Katidral and Qabel tiftah l-inkjesta.

Sometimes he combined his political experience with literature in some of his books. He speaks on politics in his political analysis and history books L-Impenn ghall-Bidla, Is-Socjalizmu fi zminijietna, Il-Hobz u l-Helsien, Malta’s European Challenge and in Confessions of a European Maltese.

The approach used in The Iscariot field is completely different from that used in the last novel he wrote, entitled La bidu, la tmiem, which was written seven years ago.

It was a historical novel spun in a way that made it seem like a comment about present times. Many said it was the longest novel written and published in the Maltese language. It was very popular with the public and was sold out in a short span of time.

Alfred Sant’s latest book The Iscariot field is expected to leave the same impact on the Maltese reading public.

Apart from book writing, Sant was involved in journalism, literature and the theatre.

Has technology killed literature?

“Technology, especially the internet, is killing the newspapers but I don’t think books are suffering because of technology,” said Dr Sant. “While some of the newspapers are going online, I think that books will remain with us for a long time,” he added. “Internet changed many things, but to appreciate a book, a level of commitment is required to enjoy a good read.”

The Iscariot field

The Iscariot field is the latest novel by Alfred Sant. It delves into innovative genres for Maltese literary writing, typical in Dr Sant’s novels. The genre challenged by Dr Sant is an unusual mix of comedy horror.

The story is set in the abandoned village of Haz Znuber. The village is known for a long history of occult and ghostly presence.

The story starts off when the chaplain of Haz Znuber decides to organise a Good Friday pageant, 130 years before they actually started being held. It turns out that on the day after the pageant, the man who acted out the part of Judas the Iscariot was found dead. Strange things start to take place when a TV team of journalists working for Kwis Kwam TV start observing what was going on in a field on the border of Haz Znuber.

The journalists intend to present a programme on their ongoing discovery at the Iscariot field. Simultaneously, a team of university researchers are trying to find out what is so mystic about Haz Znuber.

The investigations lead to some interesting dramatic developments that end in a horrible and catastrophic bloodbath. Who is to blame for the curse surrounding the Iscariot field? What is the relationship between Haz Znuber chaplain and the two scientists? How is the latest technology being used to carry out the weirdest experiments? And why has the chicken meat industry been so successful lately?

Although the investigations delve into ancient historical findings, the researchers in the book use modern technology. The Iscariot field is compressed within the magnitude of horror, a humorous horror while is presents science fiction as reality.

“Dr Carmen Sammut aptly described the book as horrible and which does not let you sleep,” said Dr Sant on his book. “Everyone is free to draw his own conclusions on the story but I hope readers find it entertaining,” he added.

Almost a year has passed since you resigned from the position of Labour Party leader. How did your life change and when do you intend to write your autobiography?

“The main focus of my life in the past year or so was to regain my health and appreciate life,” said Dr Sant. “At the moment I do not have any plans for the future but I look forward to what it holds,” he added. “On literature, I intend to publish a collection of contemporary short stories which is almost ready. I might write an economic analysis of current Maltese society. I will not publish my auto-biography for now as I do not wish to think in hindsight, but as I said, I look forward to the future,” said Dr Sant.

The Iscariot field is published by PEG publishers and is available in most bookstores. More information about The Iscariot field and on Dr Alfred Sant is available on

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