Rude Talk in Athens

Ancient Rivals, the Birth of Comedy, and a Writer’s Journey through Greece

Rude Talk in Athens is brave, brilliant, and incredibly funny. There are loads of very specific characters, including Mark himself. It’s the Mark Haskell Smith version of hanging out with Stanley Tucci and Anthony Bourdain, but in present day and ancient Greece. I agree with everything he says about comedy and have never read anything like it.”  – Barry Sonnenfeld, Film Director and Author of Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker

“Mark Haskell Smith, in this splendidly (and authentically) foul-mouthed tour of Athens in the 5th century BC, reminds us that if you want to learn the truth, follow the laughter.”
Michael Bywater, author, broadcaster, and culture critic

Smith is a delightfully funny writer yet also modest and self-deprecating—the smartest guy in the room who waves off compliments about his intelligence. ‘Rude Talk in Athens’ is fascinating, bizarre, and refreshingly optimistic, a plea for openness and selflessness in a society that has become proud of its own callousness.”
Michael Schaub, ALTA Journal

Finalist Eyelands Book Award 2021 (Greece)


Biting satire and criminal mischief abound in Mark Haskell Smith’s new novel that follows a Wall Street trader who disappears—with millions in stolen cash—and the madcap team of investigators on his trail in the Cayman Islands in this hot, hilarious case of offshore banking gone awry.

Selected for the Grand Prix De Littérature Policiére 2020 (France)

The king of crazy thrillers. – TÉLÉRAMA


From naked grocery shopping to the Big Nude Boat, a comic novelist turned narrative journalist lays bare the world of the nudist.

“Smith, a likable American writer who ambles a breezy path between the likes of Bill Bryson and Geoff Dyer, offers up plenty of hilarity as he prepares to embrace this subculture of ‘nakations’ and ‘clothing optional’ environments . . . This thoughtful, funny book is a plea for the middle ground. By the end of his unbuttoned adventures, Smith has widened his idea of what normal can be—and, following him into that sea of flesh, so has the reader.” —Phil Hogan, Guardian

“A witty and insightful read.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Smith remains a gifted satirist with a comic touch that can be either howlingly broad or devastatingly precise. . . . Though consistently surprising, fast-paced and nearly always funny, Raw is more than just a lively romp. Smith saves his best satire for a topic he knows all too well: the publishing industry. In Raw . . . Smith skewers it with as much gleeful zeal as he attacks his much easier targets.” — The Daily Beast

“This book is a masterpiece.” —Livres Hebdo (France)

Selected for the Grand Prix De Littérature Policiére 2016 (France)


“[Mark Haskell Smith’s] characters include a not-so-usual suspect lineup of hustlers, sex addicts, supermodels, failed rock stars, wine-buff cops, psychos and flakes. Haskell Smith writes well, especially about sex and food, and the multilayered plots move so fast they feel fresh. Think Elmore Leonard meets Mario Batali.” —Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times


“A laugh-out-loud, thrill-a-minute, tour de force of bad behavior, weirdness, and contemporary illegal commerce. With Baked, Mark Haskell Smith may just have written his masterpiece.” —Jerry Stahl


“Smith’s energetic thriller is an ode to the hard-boiled Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy, spun out in brighter-than-life Starburst colors.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review


Moneyball meets the documentary “The Union: The Business Behind Getting High” in this non-fiction book that explores the culture of cannabis, from its humble beginnings as a textile fiber in 2727 BC, to its illegalization during the Great Depression, to its increasing use as medicinal treatment — all culminating in the annual event for marijuana aficionados everywhere: the Cannabis Cup.

“Witty, civilized and intelligent narcotourism.” —Kirkus Reviews


“At once sexy and repulsive, the novel manages to plant sharp moral and cultural barbs in its gorge-feast of a plot.” —Publishers Weekly

The man can tell a story, oh, yes, indeed.

T. C. Boyle

MARK HASKELL SMITH is the author of six novels with one-word titles including Moist, Salty, and Blown; as well as the non-fiction books Rude Talk in Athens: Ancient Rivals, the Birth of Comedy, and a Writer’s Journey through Greece; Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup; and Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World.

His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Alta, Literary Hub, and others. He is an associate professor in the MFA program for Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California Riverside, Palm Desert Graduate Center.

He’s written award-winning screenplays and some television shows.

He lives in Los Angeles. He likes Mexican Food.

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