The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Mużajċi tat-tafal (clay mosaics)

Tuesday, 6 October 2020, 09:55 Last update: about 3 months ago

Another book of short stories by Joe Camilleri

Mużajċi tat-tafal (Clay mosaics) is another publication of short stories by Gozitan writer Joe Camilleri. The 323-page book, another prestigious production by Horizons, contains 16 stories of a psychological, introspective and socio-cultural nature. Mużajċi tat-tafal includes a critical overall study by Prof. Charles Briffa of Camilleri's short story-writing.

In this publication, some characters give an impression of strength and wholeness. Yet hidden cracks pervade their personality. Human fragility provides an underlying thematic coherence. One discerns contemporary and post-modern themes such as inner, familiar and cultural conflicts, the pangs of separation, social emargination and inacceptance, unattained aspirations, the exploitation of labour. Various emotions surface in these narratives. Yet, the yearning for love predominates.


These short stories are mainly set in a local environment. The characters are ordinary people. Many of them are victims of fear, of insecurity, of tension, of uncertainty, of disillusion and frustration. Some want to reconcile their past with their present, but are fearful of the skeleton in the cupboard. Marital situations flare up due to lack of genuine comunication and unnecessary stubborn pride and pique. Other vulnerable characters are victims of unscrupulous people, of their obsessions or else of schizophrenia. Many are nostalgic, endowed with a rich heart. They yearn for a cuddle of appreciation and desire to be understood.

These literary short stories are written in a very pleasant and flowing style. Camilleri makes use of flashbacks, zigzaging between past and present experiences. Readers find thought-provoking patterns of expressive realism and symbolism, with underlying subtle comments. The author uses idiomatic and modern Maltese, with a wide semantic field. The use of dialect makes dialogue more realistic and compelling.

Mużajċi tat-tafal ought to appeal to a wide range of readers. It is the fourth publication of short stories by Joe Camilleri, following Solitudni fil-Folla (2007), Fir-Rokna tas-Silenzju (2008) and Żwiemel tar-Riħ (2010) which were very well received by readers and literary critics.

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