The Malta Independent 9 March 2021, Tuesday

Telling children about Daphne

Noel Grima Tuesday, 29 December 2020, 10:19 Last update: about 3 months ago

‘Fearless - The story of Daphne Caruana Galizia’. Author: Gattaldo Publisher: Otter-Barry Books / 2020

One notes that literature about Daphne Caruana Galizia has been increasing these past months.

First there was the book authored by Manwel Delia, John Sweeney and  Carlo Borini, Murder on the Malta Express - Who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia?, reviewed on these pages before the book was published.

This book, published by Midsea Books, recently won the National Book Prize for literary non-fiction by the National Book Council.

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Last weekend it was announced that Justice for Daphne is Justice for our right to know, a book of photos, paintings and caricatures curated by Alessandra Dee Crespo has appeared on bookshops.

There may have been other books, which have been published abroad and which have not yet reached our shores.

And now there is this slim volume, addressed primarily to children by local caricaturist Gattaldo.

There may be those who question, why should children be introduced to the killing of Daphne and the whole gory and corruption scene that is being painstakingly uncovered by the many ongoing investigations into the case.

Others might feel that there is so much political controversy in this case that it is unseemly for children to be introduced to it.

On the other hand, one could possibly point out that many stories we consider as appropriate for children are themselves full of gory scenes.

One must not forget that children in Malta would have heard about Daphne's murder in discussions round the dinner table at their home.

Although the subject in itself would probably not have been tackled at school, it was a class from a private non-religious school which reportedly was the first to set up the shrine commemorating Daphne outside the Law Courts, where it has remained ever since. That has since become a national monument as much as the Great Siege one at its back.

The Gattaldo book gives only the bare outlines of Daphne's life, paying more attention to Daphne's great-grandfather who fought against the French and to her childhood in Sliema.

It lists her battles without any details, speaks about the arson attack on her home (and the killing of her pet dog) but then is completely silent on why and how she was killed.

In a note at the end, the author says he did not know Daphne initially until he wrote to her and they had some meetings between them. The book is thus a memorial by the author to his sporadic friend.

I have said it before and I will say it again: the book about Daphne that is still awaiting publication is the collection in book form of her blog including the readers' responses (about which Daphne spent inordinate time to correct and sometimes reply to).

There have been calls to set up a monument to Daphne. This is at present a rather forlorn hope considering that many of her jibes still rankle with the victims. But perhaps her words, and words about her, are the best monument to her lifetime courage. And it is her courage that the book rightly praises and holds up to child readers as an example.


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