...a book that is full of visionary strangeness... Sitting behind Maarouf’s work is the clear influence of one of the masters of the short form, Julio Cortázar... The only response to such a monstrous existence is the kind of dark laughter that we find in Cortázar, in Beckett, in Kafka and in Brecht. Maarouf’s stories are deeply peculiar, occasionally touching and often very funny. They are also beautifully translated by Jonathan Wright, who renders Maarouf’s language in sprightly, elegant prose.
Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright, the 12 stories offer a surreal look at the impact of war on the civilian population. By mixing the domestic with the horrific, the irreality of war comes through as we watch his characters live through unimaginable violence... There are overtones of writers like Etgar Keret in Maarouf’s stories, or the dark tales of Roald Dahl whose twisted logic and embattled child protagonists take on new resonance in wartime... An unsettling collection that seeks to showcase loss in all its varied forms.