Paul Majkut

Paul Majkut, born in East St. Louis, Illinois, now lives in San Diego, California. He has also lived for long periods in Canada, Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, and the Middle East. For food and shelter, he has had the good fortune of successfully alternating two careers, university teaching and journalism. When he finds university flapjaws intolerable, he accepts positions as a foreign correspondent and investigative journalist. When he tires of barroom journalism, he returns to academe and scholarship.

While on National Endowment for the Humanities grants, Majkut researched  ...See more >

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"Majkut offers a fresh take on the classic revenge tale inspired by the early writing of Karl Marx… . In a novel written so well, and with such restraint, it’s easy not to feel [the villain’s] steadily tightening noose until it closes as all is revealed—to great satisfaction—in the final act. An impressive denouement to Marx’s unfinished play."

Kirkus Reviews


Hometown East Saint Louis, Illinois

Favorite author Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Tillie Olsen, Toni Morrison, among countless others.

Favorite book Shakespeare's Othello

Day job Journalist, Professor of Literature

Favorite line from a book "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

Favorite word Justice

Unexpected skill or talent Medieval calligraphy

Passion in life The women in my life and the truth found only in fiction.


Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-0615959931
Page count: 374pp

Majkut (Asterion, 2014, etc.) offers a fresh take on the classic revenge tale inspired by the early writing of Karl Marx.

Only partially completed in 1837, Marx’s verse-drama fragment Oulanem: A Tragedy comprises four scenes and seven characters. Majkut’s slow-burning conspiracy adds to that cast, builds on the scenes and imagines their trajectories, relocating the action from Italy to 19th-century Austria following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Nihilistic philosopher Tillo Oulanem (who sees the world as “a detestable, viscous place populated by slugs”) has accepted an invitation to lecture at Innsbruck’s university. His arrival is heralded by Rudolf Pertini, a seemingly docile civil magistrate who offers lodging to Oulanem and his companion. But Pertini’s charitable demeanor belies his true intentions: He’s been waiting for years to exact revenge on Oulanem. By casting others of Innsbruck as pawns in his scheme, Pertini instigates Oulanem’s undoing. “Now, I set the minor characters in motion,” he says, “and, like grindstones in a mill, they will prepare the flour for my feast…I will set the table, prepare the final banquet, and serve only one guest, who will consume himself.” The pawns provide mostly engrossing story arcs of their own. There’s Albirich, a smug Viennese student of high standing who organizes trysts in an abandoned clock shop; Beatrice, a young woman whose menstruations lead to violent mood swings and, consequently, a laudanum addiction; Oulanem’s protégé, Lucindo, orphaned as a boy and determined to uncover his origins while he fights Albirich for Beatrice’s affections; and Benedikt Perto, a well-meaning (if hypocritical) priest and staunch combatant of apothecary methods of healing. These braided storylines produce an image of an insular town consumed by anti-Semitism, infidelity, political tension and superstition. While casual readers may feel bludgeoned by the heaps of Austrian history, most anyone interested in the political and social minutiae of everyday people will find these details enriching. In a novel written so well, and with such restraint, it’s easy not to feel Pertini’s steadily tightening noose until it closes as all is revealed—to great satisfaction—in the final act.

An impressive denouement to Marx’s unfinished play.


Lirerary Mystery

A book of suspicion, resentment, confusion, regret, poor memory, and conversation. The narrator, inexplicably lost in the Labyrinth, is confronted by Asterion, the Minotaur. At the same time, the narrator and his wife are vacationing on a Greek island when hotel guests begin to disappear. A discredited police inspector arrives to unravel the mystery, but his reliance on phrenology may be a greater hindrance than help. The opening riddle is resolved in the ending

ISBN: ISBN-10: 0615977480
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Short Stories

Odd people inextricably caught in odd situations, this collection of tales places the weight of individual choice and character on the airy fate and circumstance. They are populated by the gullible, madmen, lonely women, fools, and heroic losers.

ISBN: ISBN-10: 149952143X
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Mystery and Terrorism

Sand, published as Sandstorm in The Riyadh Daily in 1987-8 as a serialized novel, is an eclectic work combining surreal events and naturalistic description. A possible threat to the wife of an American oil magnate brings an incognito investigator from the Institute for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to the InterHo hotel. At the Institute, he is secretly involved with a jihadist brotherhood that includes Osama bin Laden. At the same time, “the Author” observes and comments on the story as a character at the hotel. Sand is a snapshot album of Riyadh in the late 1980s.

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1499377339
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"Verse and Adverse" is a collection of poems. They range in character from love poetry to insult and are written in traditional forms as well as experimental. They confront personal and social issues, are addressed to friends and enemies, and are often as emotionally puzzling as they are pointedly clear.

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1499617496
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Non Fiction

Vietnamese refugees who escaped by sea and land to camps throughout Southeast Asia, then came to California to begin new lives, wrote with their suffering a saga of world history that should not be forgotten. Theirs is a story of defeat, escape, and renewal. Based on anonymous interviews by the Director of a large program for Vietnamese refugees in Orange County, California, in the early 1980s, Vietnamese Diaspora is a compilation of fear and hope that is the by-product of war. The interviewees speak for themselves.

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1499603193
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