Jokes for the Gunmen

Mazen Maarouf

Published: 3 January 2019
Trade Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 176 pages
ISBN: 9781846276675

About the author

Image of Mazen Maarouf

MAZEN MAAROUF was born in Beirut in 1978. He is a Palestinian-Icelandic writer, poet, translator and journalist. He has published three poetry collections and two short story collections. He currently lives between Reykjavik and Beirut. More about the author


Small, explosive and powerful, [Jokes for the Gunmen] is a bullet of a debut’ Emily Rhodes



Translated seamlessly from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright [...] Maarouf gives us much to admire and more to enjoy. His bold and masterful stories laugh in the face of adversity and shine vital rays of light through darkness and despair’ Malcolm Forbes

‘A debut collection that returns over and over again to the subject of humour as its characters try to make sense of life in a Lebanese war zone...the twelve stories offer a surreal look at the impact of war on the civilian population... An unsettling collection that seeks to showcase loss in all its varied formsSarah Gilmartin

‘Full of visionary strangeness... deeply peculiar, occasionally touching and often very funny... Beautifully translated by Jonathan Wright, who renders Maarouf's language in sprightly, elegant prose’ Alex Preston

‘I really loved this book. Each story holds a common space with carefully, floatingly simple, precise and off-balance language. The stories return to the idea of the joke again and again in ways that are at once funny, profoundly sad and mysteriously enriching. Violence visits the characters frequently with its sudden transformations of body and memory, its indifference and its irresistibility, brilliantly captured by the author in all its dense reality, its shattering irreality. This is a book that deepens our sense of who we are to each otherDavid Hayden

‘In Jokes for the Gunmen, humour and pathos rub elbows in the most ludicrous and disturbing ways, reminiscent of Emile Habibi's The Secret Life of Sa 'eed the Pessoptimist or Roald Dahl's short fiction’

‘In this pitch-perfect collection Maarouf skilfully blends the mundane and the bizarre to explore the dark times we live in with grace and lightness of touch. He is a maestro.Fadia Faqir, author

‘Jonathan Wright captures the tone of Maarouf's original Arabic in a translation which was deservedly longlisted for this year's Man Booker International Prize... delightfully dark, absurdist humour

‘Maarouf's stories describe the perverted logic of a society deformed by war. They are funny and horrifying, matter-of-fact and surreal, bleak and magical. They show you things not easily forgotten’ Chris Power

‘Mazen Maarouf's stories are a powerful reminder that it is only through the imagination we can hope to make sense of the brute senselessness of reality’ Sjón

‘Unsettlingly good’

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