Peresso was born in Vittoriosa in 1939. He studied literature and philosophy in Treviso and Brescia (Italy) and continued his M.A. in Spiritual Theology at the Institute and Faculty of Theology in Rome. In his career of over fifty years as a broadcaster for the Public Broadcasting Services, he held the posts of Head of TV and Radio Programmes, and Head of Drama and Culture. He was also influential in the creation of the cultural radio station FM Bronja.
His first publications were the children’s books Karamella Karamellu (Caramel Candy, 1980) and Kikku u Sika (Kikku and Sika, 1980), which were based on television characters. It is interesting to see how varied Peresso’s topics and themes have been, yet how consistent his style has remained throughout; from historical and social novels such as Il-Qassis tal-Belt (The Priest of Valletta, 2011) and Ħajja ta’ Kelb (A Dog’s Life, 1999), through to his more psychological novel Il-Wiċċ l-Ieħor (published in English as The Other Face, 2019) which explores the aspect of dualism in human nature, as well as his autobiography It-Tifel tan-Nanna (Granny’s Boy, 2009). This common thread persists in his poetry too, especially in his collections Għażilt li nħobb (I Chose to Love, 1987), Simple Thoughts (2018) and Silenzi per una notte (A Night’s Silence, 1998).
Works which are especially meaningful to Peresso are Ħajja ta’ Kelb, Il-Wiċċ l-Ieħor, and L-Aħħar Warda (The Last Rose, 2021). Ħajja ta’ Kelb was awarded the Special Prize by the National Book Council. Apart from being his first novel, it established Peresso’s distinctive style, rhythmical and poetic, with a penchant for inverting grammar and structure. Il-Wiċċ l-Ieħor won the National Book Prize in 2019. In this novel Peresso deals with the intertwining yet conflicting facets of reality and fantasy in life. It was translated into English by Irene Mangion. L-Aħħar Warda is Peresso’s last novel to date, and intriguingly combines the author’s narrative thought with fables of old. It has been described by Prof. Charles Briffa as “the best classical novel of these times”.
There is something pleasantly approachable and inviting in the way Peresso expresses himself, pouring his thoughts and values into his craft. It truly is a delight to lose oneself in Peresso’s works and for a while delve into the wealth of knowledge and experience that underpins his writing.
Biography written by Ruth Bezzina
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul