When I started to read David Aloisio’s latest novel Ġganti (giants) I jumped back in time during the mid 90’s when I was learning Maltese by reading the series of adventure books Trevor Żahra. These books, although heavily influenced by Enid Blyton’s mysteries, were fun to read and Ġganti has elements of that sense of abandonment.
The book’s setting is an island, which could be a greener, more primitive version of Malta but that’s up to the reader’s judgement. Żita an outgoing child gets a tip off that there is a whale (which I guess is a giant) off coast so she persuades her friend to accompany her. When they arrive they go for a swim and Żita , through some mysterious accident lands up among a society of giants, in where she has to stay because if she is let go their secret hiding place may be revealed. Żita finds out that there have been other children who have experienced the same fate.
What follows is a series of episodes ranging from a swarm of bees attacking the giants to the violent internal disputes between them. In some ways the book functions as a set of interlinking collection of stories.
I saw Ġganti as a glimpse of Malta (or maybe even society as a whole) during more innocent times. These giants live simply, without any form of electronic technology and have a bond with the natural world, something which is being lost. The writing is beautiful, with interesting similes and metaphors on every page. The language just flows, if one thought that Maltese is a harsh language, books like Ġganti prove that Maltese can be elegant.
Whether taken an adventure or a look at the way people lived in the past, Ġganti is a book which can be enjoyed by both young (I would say from 10 upwards) and old. Rich in language and yet fun. This is a classic adventure novel, which are becoming a bit scarce in Malta. If this signals a comeback to the genre and they are similar to Ġganti then I’m all for it.
Many thanks to the author and Horizons for providing a copy of Ġganti