Only When I Larf

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Only When I Larf
First edition cover
AuthorLen Deighton
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreComic thriller novel
PublisherSphere Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)

Len Deighton's Only When I Larf is a 1968 British comic thriller describing the activities of a team of three confidence tricksters led by Silas Lowther (late 40s), his girlfriend Liz Mason (late 20s) and wannabe apprentice and Liz-worshipper Bob (early 20s). It was published in 1968 by Michael Joseph and in paperback by Sphere. It is currently (2012) printed by Harper in the UK.

The novel interleaves first-person narratives from Bob (76 pages in 7 chapters), Liz (78 pages in 6 chapters) and Silas (88 pages in 5 chapters). Their increasingly contradictory descriptions of shared experiences contribute to the humour. This unreliable narration adds to the atmosphere around deceiving "the marks". The title is explained in a variety of unlikely anecdotes where in each case a critically injured third party bravely replies this when asked "Does it hurt?"


A film adaptation of Only When I Larf, directed by Basil Dearden,[1] was released in 1968 starring Richard Attenborough as Silas, David Hemmings as Bob and Alexandra Stewart as Liz and has been well reviewed.[2][3][4]


  1. ^ "Only When I Larf". Variety. 31 December 1967. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Vincent Canby. The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  4. ^ Variety. Retrieved 28 April 2013.