Sunshine on the Substitute Bench

Mazen Maarouf

‘Mazen Maarouf knows how to bring a tear to the reader’s eye, in a unique style that combines the cynicism of reality and the magic of carefully crafted imagination.’ – Rami El Amine – Daraj Media

‘Mazen Maarouf creates a unique poetic world with his writing. We live through events in which fantasy is intertwined with reality, and dreams with existential questions. As if the writer wants us to see things through a different lens, to see a different meaning. From the blind cow who secretes chocolate from her breasts to “Saada” who makes crochet from the threads of clouds and plants. Here reality and imagination merge, but more than that, the writer makes as follow the threads of their intertwining. Writing, as the book suggests, is more than trying to recount what happened. Rather, it is a confident journey of listening to the whispers of “a life in which nothing happens” as the title of the first story.’ Taghrid Adelal – Al-akhbar newspaper

‘Mazen Maarouf is an experienced writer who knows that there is no point in writing if it is not to shake up and disturb your thoughts.’ Mariam Al Hajj- Future TV

‘Painful stories written with honesty and provocative realism. Although imagination frees it from materialism, reality weighs it down. With microscopic detail, the author examines the children of the city who imitate with their toys and fears what the adults go through, entrenched in the areas of civil war conflict. The place unifies these stories, which are fused into one complex childhood with many faces and levels. Thus, the book can be read as a novel with chapters free in their construction and relation to one another, just as its characters escape from the constraints of adulthood, logic, sensory reality and innocence… these are sensitive, spontaneous characters thrown into an inhumane world that lacks safety and warmth.’ Hoda Marmar – bookoholics reading club at the American university of Beirut

‘This is a a collection of short story in which the harsh memory of war combines with the present day Beirut and its possible future. Each story can be read alone, but the book can also be read as a whole, as if it were a single sequential story. The events flow quickly and move smoothly between chapters, while imagination remains its mainstay. Thus, we read about children with names they took from the streets, things and movie stars they grew up with, and unveil their diaries after the end of the civil fighting in Beirut, discovering boxing, bicycles, bullets and deserted storage rooms. Stories that expresses a unique mixture of dreams, fear, and the waiting for something to happen.’ Ahmad Mohsen (editor – Hachette Antoine)

‘Mazen Maarouf was able to establish his name in a short period of time, picking up his storytelling tools, language and style from fantasy, comic, crude life, imagination, the childish, turbulent worlds. Now he is back with these new provocative stories that give birth to all kinds of questions while reading through the book.’ Mohammad Houjairi – Editor-in-Chief of Almodon


Hachette-Antoine Lebanon Arabic

Sellerio Editore Italy

Material: finished copies and PDF (250pp)