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Articles tagged "Satire"

The Sound Words Have

Once there was a town where no two people spoke the same language. No one used the same words for anything. And yet everyone understood everyone else and they all lived together in peace and harmony. Until recently, the locals were cheerful, cordial, and— though it’s hard to believe—talkative. The town was in a nameless region deep in central Europe. The place had no name because it was so remote that it was usually represented on maps as a black hole. That is, if it was...

Ride of the Valkyries

For Vasco Szinetar The president sits in the backseat of the car and watches confusedly as his wife struggles to climb in. Her clothes are cumbersome, extravagant, even though she dressed in a hurry. He remembers when she used to dream of wearing such elegant garments, when she was still a bit young to put them to much use: that night in the cinema where Elizabeth Taylor was the girlfriend and Spencer Tracy the confused father; where Orson Welles was the powerful magnate and Libertad...

His Majesty: The Stomach

"His Majesty: The Stomach" is a play about the effects of colonial history on players who are deflated and absurd in the wake of it. It is particular to the postcolonial history of Africa, but it is also an allegory of absolute power and the grotesque narcissism the rulers exhibit even as their empire crumbles. It is also particular to the personal history of Sony Tansi, whose recurring theme of bodily malfunctions and disease mirror not only the politics he is critiquing but his own...

from “King-Ma Has Come”

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Wei Tsung-Cheng produces a mock-heroic Chinese political history

King-Ma Has Come (Ma Huang Jiang Lin) is a product of the hugely popular kuso culture in Asia. Also known as egao in Mandarin Chinese, the genre is known for its campy humor and outrageous parodies of the politically correct media portrayal of reality. King-Ma, Wei Tsung-cheng’s kuso martial arts take on political culture in Taiwan, pokes fun at everyone from Taiwan’s current and former presidents, Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian, to the reigning figures of modern Chinese history,...

from “Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded”

Yusuf al-Shirbini wrote his primary work, Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded [Hazz al-Quhuf bi-Sharh Qasid Abi Shaduf], in or shortly after 1686. His only other known work is a homily written entirely with those letters of the Arabic alphabet that do not have dots. Little is known of the author's life, though he appears to have studied at al-Azhar, Cairo's religious university, and to have worked as a bookseller and perhaps, at some point, as a weaver. Brains...

The Many Masks of Max Mirebelais

Roberto Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the Americas presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition. The novel is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary...

Read Out Sunday

This is how Sue gave her life to God and got back her virginity. That Sunday was church as usual. The same women as always in Jesus hats, their hands raised and their eyes squeezed so tightly shut as if by sheer willpower they were going to transfigure themselves out of Satan's clutches and into the arms of the Saviour. These were the kinds of women whose lives were in constant peril—always having to spin themselves out of the reach of demons, always walking with a bottle of...

well hell then what

well hell then what what hell what then wax with one hand leaning with the cheek rubbing with a leg she's a dyed in the wool pioneer perfect pallor, not a drop of tan not a gram of conscience in a shirt, sleeves rolled up a tie white as her with a book without letters, like a living as if dead asking: "kiss me, moscow girl, kiss lenin, he lives between my legs this time didn't go anywhere life swung on the swing more has happened here trust me lenin lives,...

There Are No Hopeless Situations

"I'm very happy," said Personov as he left the house for work. "I'm very happy," he reminded himself as he performed the process in reverse that evening. "I'm very happy," he repeated as he rode the carousel with his kids. There were two: a six-year-old boy and a girl of four. The boy was full of curiosity and used to construct fleets of ships out of cardboard; the girl was cute and round-faced and already demonstrated a talent for housekeeping. "I'm very happy,"...

Mordechai’s Mustache and His Wife’s Cats

Mordechai is a simple person, like tens of thousands of others in Tel Aviv (though he would insist that there are few like him there). He enjoys living his easy and comfortable life, gives no one grief, and no one gives him grief. That's why Mordechai's neighbors like him: he doesn't hassle them. Mordechai was in the army, and after his discharge he continued to see himself as a soldier-as indeed he was, in the reserves. He has held many different jobs, simple trades...

The Abolition of the Profession of Curser

Other rumors might have circulated widely in earlier periods, but without a doubt these new ones should have produced the greatest effect. The current reports concerned the abolition of the office of curser. Their effect should have been as great on those whom this eventuality could not fail to vex as on those who were ready to delight in it. The former group included, first and foremost, the individuals directly concerned, as well as their friends and relations. Among the latter were...

Sprouts

As he did every morning, Bilal al-Dandashi headed to school. Arriving late, he entered trembling from fear of his teacher, whose rebuke would be crude and sarcastic. He discovered, however, that all the pupils and teachers were asleep. He tried to rouse them but to no avail. Feeling bored as he sat there alone, he yawned and fell asleep. While sleeping he dreamt he was in a school where the pupils were sleeping so soundly that they were oblivious to their teachers' angry cries. Then...

Broken Glass

I need to start by describing the row that accompanied the birth of the bar, to tell you a bit about the calvary the Captain had to face, because some people wanted to drive him into his grave, to draw up his last will and testament, it all began with people from the Church who, when they saw their congregations were diminishing on Sundays, began a real Holy War against him, they all threw their Jerusalem bibles at Credit Gone Away, they said that if this went on there would be no more...

The Rooster’s Egg: A Fable of Ancient Thebes

It is hard not to read this story as a lesson about the arbitrary nature of power and attendant reversals of fortune. Some historical background: Akhenaten, originally Amenhotep IV (1353-1335 B.C.), was the "heretic" pharaoh who officially rejected the traditional Egyptian pantheon, and instituted a new, monotheistic religion, centering on the worship of the sun disk, Aten. However, as modern Egyptians reading this would know, the priests of Amun in fact got the last laugh: after...

You Know My Name

In February, during the Book Fair, my first novel was published. It merited two reviews, one in the May-June issue of El Caimán Barbudo, and the other in La Gaceta of July-August. The first was wary: the second frankly cryptic. I will cite one typical excerpt. "Nosotros los impotentes is, then, genesis and epiphany. The discursive continuum flows without stumbling, meandering from the initial spell to a sudden surprise, and at the end of the eternal adventure of reading, to the...

Hair Tax

After months of controversy, the new hair tax was approved. The Hamster Lovers' Guild was said to be the driving force behind the reform. The Guild had always found it objectionable that the tax levied on mammals was the same for a hamster as for a German shepherd. They proposed that the tax be recalculated in accordance with an animal's surface area. The tax agency accepted this compromise, but then chose to avoid the term "surface area," which might have been construed as...
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