The Curse of the Mudball Kid

Mazen Maarouf

The Curse of the Mudball Kid

A novella of great power and portent.  The Mud Ball Kid is considered ‘the last Palestinian’. He has a unique resistance to the genocidal bio-weapon which kills all Palestinians in 2037. His immunity arises from his capacity to store the cells of the dying Palestinians as pure energy: ‘this meant that on my death, I would release massive amounts of energy.’  The Mud Ball Kid is contained in a glass cube designed to prevent his death, but the cube proves ineffectual and the energy emissions transform into the spectral figures of dead Palestinians, who move among the living Israelis. Drawing a contrast between the sophisticated, futuristic biopower of the state of Israel and the dehumanising physical suffering the narrator endures, Maarouf’s story emphasises the extreme violence of managed debilitation.

‘This story has the queasy combination of childlike naïveté, historical surrealism, and intense violence that can be found in much of Maarouf’s work. Set 100 years after the Nakba, or the 1948 mass expulsion of Palestinians, the story — despite its surreal futurity — has many elements common with other contemporary Palestinian stories: sneaking past the Wall; the keeping of memory; performativity; the removal of Palestinian names; being cut off from one’s land and produce; and secret love.’ Arab Lit

The Curse of the Mudball Kid

‘With today’s knowledge, some passages are downright poignant, especially when the first person describes himself as the last Palestinian: “When I went outside to collect cigarette butts, the streets were full of corpses and there was a horrible stench.”’ De Volkskrant

‘Oh, my. Just… oh my. One part science fiction, two parts surrealism, with a blithe disregard for anything so basic as laws of nature. It was unapologetic in its oddness, and every page was a turner.’ SFF Reviews

‘A riotous yet sad ghost story of sorts, populated with memorable characters and a plot involving robomicrobes, energy that can move between living beings, and the stolen imaginations of children.’ Sabotage Reviews


  • De Harmonie NL
  • Hachette Antoine Lebanon Arabic
  • Comma Press UK, WEL

Material: English, Arabic and Dutch text (80pp)