jeremy's Reviews > The Jokers

The Jokers by Albert Cossery
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bookshelves: fiction, translation

a delectably playful, political satire from the late egyptian writer, the jokers (la violence et la dérision) features a mischievous cast of characters intent on undermining the governor of an unnamed middle eastern municipality. cossery's novel, published in the mid-1960's, is neither heavy-handed nor unnecessarily ideological, as many works of political fiction tend to be, but is, instead, a jocular tale that never takes itself too seriously. rather than fomenting civil unrest or violent revolt, karim and company employ their guerrilla cunning in the sportive art of culture jamming- tactics that serve their cause far more effectively. while cossery's writing likely cannot withstand charges pronouncing his disdain for women (or, at the least, the reproachable characterizations of them in his fiction), none of his characters, at least here in the jokers, are beyond the realm of exaggeration, simplification, or caricature. with no real stylistic flourish to speak of, cossery's novel excels on account of its entertaining plot and the vicarious joy to be found in openly mocking the ineptitude and inanity of our public officials.
history's full of these little bureaucrats who rise to high positions because of their diligence and perseverance in a life of crime. it was a painful thought: the only glorious men the human race has produced were a bunch of miserable officials who cared about nothing but their own advancement and were sometimes driven to massacre thousands of their own just to hold on to their jobs and keep food on the table. and this was who was held up for the respect and admiration of the crowd!

*rendered from the french by anna moschovakis- editor, poet, and translator (simenon, michaux)
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