My rating: 4 stars
Novellas, despite their short number of pages, can be a suitable medium to believably portray the emotional and psychological condition of a specific character. The Misfit by the Maltese author Oliver Friggieri focuses on Baruch, a young man who was trying to discover himself, while grieving over his recently deceased professor.
The display of Baruch’s feelings starts at the instant when he ran to the cemetery and revisited the day of the funeral. That moment is depicted in an emotional, gracious and poignant manner. He loved his professor, who was 33 years old when he died, but no one noticed it. During classes, he always heard everything he said with the utmost attention. However, he never took notes, because he didn’t want to stop looking at him. Contrary to some of his more eager colleagues, he also didn’t approach the professor after classes.
Baruch was struggling to come to terms with who he really was. His life was full of contradictions. He felt depressed and lacked confidence. As he was extremely reserved, he also couldn’t explain his feelings to others. His parents wanted to be able to understand him but couldn’t. Baruch didn’t share his tribulations with them. Instead, he kept a diary, since he could express himself much better through written words. Friggieri used meaningful metaphors, similes and visual descriptions to convey Baruch’s psychological ordeals.
“He was a young man confined in a shell like a snail lost between the giant fingers of another man.”
Since he didn’t want to continue to attend university, Baruch decided to enter the seminary in order to become a priest. The narration of the daily activities he had to undertake while there was sometimes a bit repetitive, because the tasks themselves were monotonous. Nevertheless, his emotional struggles continued to be made clear.
Being a short novella, The Misfit doesn’t provide a definite resolution to Baruch’s story, but it’s a worthy exploration of his emotional condition and how he undoubtedly needed to accept himself first and foremost.