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ISBN 978-0-9561073-6-7
First published October 2010; 166 pp
paperback with endpapers; 198 x 129 mm

click here to read a pdf excerpt.
Gabriel Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940 and lived in Egypt from 1945 to 1956, when he came to the UK. He read English at Oxford and taught at the University of Sussex from 1963 to 1996. His work includes fiction, drama and criticism, and has been widely translated. In 2010 he published a collection of stories spanning forty years, Heart’s Wings (Carcanet), and a critical work, What Ever Happened to Modernism? (Yale).
Gabriel Josipovici  Only Joking

‘I do not think there is any writer working in English at present who is more subtly inventive or more original than Gabriel Josipovici.’
      – Tales from the Reading Room

– You know what the secret of being a good clown is, Elspeth? he asks.
– No, she says. You’ve told me but I’ve forgotten.
– Innocence, Elspeth, he says. A clown is innocent. He is innocent because he has not been born into our world. He is innocent, Elspeth, because he has not been born at all.

Alphonse, an accordion-playing ex-clown, is hired by the Baron to spy on his wife, for whom, unknown to the Baron, he is already working. The intricate shadow-play that ensues moves at a pace that quickly blurs the distinctions between jokes and lies, art and evidence, until with a final tug at the strings the characters – barons, clowns, art students, art collectors, film-makers, restaurateurs – are brought into unexpected alignment with their several objects of desire.

Only Joking has the light heart which can be revealed at the further end of a literary career . . . The great success of Josipovici’s technique here is that not only is the effect like that of watching something between an Ealing comedy and a very sparky and accessible French nouvelle vague film, but it also sharpens our own responses to the layers of deceit going on . . . Frivolous or not, it is a complete pleasure.’
      Nicholas Lezard, Guardian  (complete review

‘Only Joking is a witty, complex comedy of machinations, mirror figures, sex and love, art, and verbal dexterity . . . [The novel] is, at the end, both a lark and a view, from a more relaxed perspective, of the same concerns one can find in Gabriel Josipovici’s recent fictions, including Goldberg: Variations (2002) and Everything Passes (2006). His power of invention is remarkable, and his example – of a mind that refuses to go through the motions and simply write another book just like the last – is inspiring.’
     – Jeff Bursey, Winnipeg Review

Only Joking shows the author at his comic best.’
     – Mark Thwaite, ReadySteadyBook