Refusing to ‘let go’ of a particular passage in his mind, he set about translating it from English to Maltese. One passage became several, and after Borg reached out to Amiry – whose encouragement and charisma Borg credits as key motivators throughout – Borg eventually completed his first published work: a translation of Amiry’s novel Sharon and My Mother in Law (Sharon u l-Kunjata), published by Sensiela Kotba Soċjalisti (SKS) in 2015.
Borg lays the blame for his ‘late’ literary blossoming squarely on his former career path, which he has gleefully abandoned in more recent years in favour of more edifying pursuits. Having grown ideologically weary of working within the structure of a world bank for 20 years, Borg found solace in the volunteering sector, particularly through organisations which help asylum-seekers in Malta. While not exclusively populated by tales of non-Europeans stranded on the Maltese islands and forced to negotiate their way through the prejudices and injustices therein, Borg’s debut short story collection Mhux Nies certainly takes a compassionate and complex view of the societal Other, in its depiction of a varied array of people at key flashpoints in their lives.
Hardly a precocious scribbler since childhood, Borg also belongs to that strand of young Maltese writers who appear to have rescued the language from the threat of ossified reverence. Opting to pursue the academic route into Maltese literature only years after his initial immersion into the scene, Borg found himself initiated into it through relatively ‘populist’ touchstones. These include the early literary output of the erstwhile enfant terrible of Maltese literature in the early 2000s – Ġużè Stagno – as well as the unvarnished and abrasive music and lyrics of pop-folk group Brikkuni, who according to Borg made Maltese ‘cool’ again.
He also cites authors like Pierre J. Mejlak, Clare Azzopardi, Immanuel Mifsud and Walid Nabhan as key influences, all of whom are strongly associated with local literary NGO Inizjamed, which organises the very same annual festival that spurned Borg to purse a literary calling. And the path came full circle after Borg was embraced within the Inizjamed executive, later on even becoming its coordinator. He credits the organisation for making him realise that there’s more to literature than just books, and for making him feel special for the first time in a long while.
Biography written by Teodor Reljić
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul