Skip to content
Give readers a window on the world. Click to donate.

January 2019

Laughing Matters: International Humor

Image: Yue Minjun, A-maze-ing Laughter, 14 patinated cast-bronze figures. By arrangement with the Vancouver Biennale.

As the Northern Hemisphere shivers and wonders when the sun might next appear, we’re offering a break from the gloom by turning to humorous work from our archives. From political satire to broad farce, slapstick to the subtlest of ironies, the writers here demonstrate the value of comic relief. In three sardonic looks at government, Fouad Laroui’s diplomat loses his pants but keeps his wits, Hilda Twongweire’s loyal minister covers up his bosses’ assignations, and Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain’s hapless speechwriter undergoes trial by rewrite. Iharilanto Patrick Andriamangatiana eggs on a market scheme. Gabriela Wiener finds three’s company. Empar Moliner discovers a way out of marital boredom, while Saša Stanišiç and Wladimir Kaminer journey into farce. Behnaz Alipour Gaskari’s respectable matron finds herself in an anxiety dream come to life. Huang Fan’s master real estate salesman designs a blueprint for success. And Griet Op de Beeck’s dinner guest is served up a social conundrum. Elsewhere we present Francophone poetry from Algeria, introduced and translated by Marilyn Hacker.

A Pun, an Idiom, and an Expletive Walk into a Bar: International Humor

When we think of translating humor, we may think in terms of capturing jokes.

The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers

So, nichts pairs of pants and Europe awaits me at nine o’clock sharp.

Auntie’s Eggs

It’s a well-known fact that rhyming jingles attract customers.

A Classical Education

"And Mister Mozart didn't fasten his seatbelt either," the little monster tattled.


I’ve been unfaithful on Good Friday, Mother’s Day, Christmas and even during a coup d’état.


Paris Lost

Our government was very generous with its citizens; it couldn't be compared to an imperialist regime.

The Invention of the Aspirin

To think that by just using her imagination, they could all be hers, bores her stiff.

Weapons of Mass Diplomacy

cover image

Look, seriously, he's gonna make you rewrite it ten times.

Baking the National Cake

He feels like opening the door and stuffing the VP into one of the old closets.


A History of Condo Sales

And so our company’s gigantic neon sign escapes your sight, perched atop an eighteen-story condominium.


She was now sitting half-naked in front of the door.


What You’ve Given Up Hoping for Counts Twice as Much, She’d Discovered

In general Kathleen didn’t look at the contents of toilet bowls, but in this case it didn’t take much to notice the colossus.



Book Reviews

In “HELL,” Alasdair Gray Creates a Celtic, Wind-lashed Translation of Dante’s “Inferno”

Reviewed by Jamie Mackay

By fusing a dialect-laden verse with knowledge and respect for Dante’s original, the Scottish writer and illustrator has built a bridge across borders and nations.

One-third Women, “The Milk Bowl of Feathers” Adds Provocative New Voices to the Surrealist Canon

Reviewed by Susan Aberth

Edited by Mary Ann Caws, this anthology delivers new insights into this radical movement and rectifies past omissions to its canon with more intellectually daring and provocative non-French and female voices.

Recent Issues

Our Nueva York: Writing the City in Spanish

The Language of Identity: Kaaps Writing from South Africa

Voices on the Verge: Writing from Southeast Asian Creole Languages

The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia

Backstories: Afro-Italian Women Writers

The Queer Issue XII

Movement and Multiplicity: Writing from Mauritania

On the Edge: Writing from Iceland

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.