Jokes for the Gunmen | Granta

  • Published: 03/01/2019
  • ISBN: 9781846276675
  • 129x20mm
  • 176 pages

Jokes for the Gunmen

Mazen Maarouf

Translated by Jonathan Wright


A brilliant collection of fictions in the vein of Roald Dahl, Etgar Keret and Amy Hempel. These are stories of what the world looks like from a child’s pure but sometimes vengeful or muddled perspective. These are stories of life in a war zone, life peppered by surreal mistakes, tragic accidents and painful encounters. These are stories of fantasist matadors, lost limbs and perplexed voyeurs. This is a collection about sex, death and the all-important skill of making life into a joke. These are unexpected stories by a very fresh voice. These stories are unforgettable.

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, Observer

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 forms

Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times

Unsettlingly good

Sunday Times

The Author

Mazen Maarouf is a writer, poet, translator and journalist. His story collection Jokes for the Gunmen was translated into English by Jonathan Wright, and longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Since then, he has published (in Arabic) a second collection called Rats That Licked the Karate Champion’s Ear and recently the interlinked stories Sunshine on the Substitute Beach. He is working on a novel.

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The Translator

Jonathan Wright is a British literary translator who has translated more than a dozen Arabic novels and short-story collections into English since 2008, including three winners of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. He has won the Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation twice.

More about the translator →

Mazen Maarouf on

Fiction | Granta 164

A Life Where Nothing Happens

Mazen Maarouf

‘His fear was that we would die in front of him and so he thought of us all the time, which is not what he wanted.’

Fiction by Mazen Maarouf.

Fiction | Granta 150

The Story of Anya

Mazen Maarouf

‘The dreams were packed together like coloured soap bubbles.’

Short fiction by Mazen Maarouf, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright.

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

Best Book of Any Year: A Thousand and One Nights

Mazen Maarouf

Mazen Maarouf on why A Thousand and One Nights is the best book of any year.