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Starred Review. This aggressive, prize-winning Canadian import debut recounts the fate of two childhood friends in war-ravaged Beirut. Narrator Bassam dreams of leaving Beirut, where there is "not enough [money] for cigarettes, a nagging mother, and food," and escaping to Rome, where even the pigeons "look happy and well fed." To fund his escape, he enters into a scheme with his best friend, George, to skim funds from the poker arcade where George works. But George is soon coerced into joining the militia and rises to its top ranks, allowing the friends to indulge in freewheeling lawlessness. Their days of riding the streets of West Beirut "with guns under our bellies, and stolen gas in our tanks, and no particular place to go" gives way to betrayal and violence more ferocious than either self-styled thug had bargained for. Though Bassam does eventually leave, he finds he cannot entirely escape Beirut; only in Paris, where the story plays out its third and final act, does he discover the extent of his friend's treachery. Hage's energetic prose matches the brutality depicted in the novel without overstating the narrative's tragic arc—an impressive first outing for Hage. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* East meets West in this stunning first novel yielding a totally fresh perspective on war-torn Beirut. Bassam and George have been best friends since childhood, when they roamed the ruined streets of their hometown, making a game out of collecting empty bullets and cannon shells to trade for cigarettes. Now, years into the civil war, "ten thousand bombs had landed," and the two have lost their parents and many neighbors to them, growing hard and cynical in the process. Every day is a test in survival, a mad scramble for food and petrol. Bassam dreams of escaping to Rome, where even the pigeons look "happy and well-fed." He and George concoct an elaborate ruse to rip off the gambling parlor where George works, but after joining the local Christian militia, George is a changed man. Soon even their close friendship is enveloped by the nihilism bred by living in a war zone, and Bassam is forced to flee from the militia, hopping a a boat bound for France. Both terse and lyrical, Hage's narrative is a wonder, alternately referencing modern American action heroes and ancient Arabic imagery. The blend of the two is as startling as it is beautiful. Wilkinson, Joanne
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It is an accurate description of what the situation was like during the war, but it is not a compelling readPublished 10 months ago by K ALMUNAJJED
Never have I been so moved by a novel. It feels fresh and current. That is what terrifies me.
Rawi Hage writes a prose that cuts to the bone. Read more
Lebanon is a country with bad luck. Which comes, of course, from bad location. A beautiful, hilly and forested piece of land, home to ancient civilizations like the Phoenicians, it... Read morePublished on December 21, 2010 by Guillermo Maynez
Bassam, the narrator, is a 19 year old Christian living in Beirut with his widowed mother during the Conflict between Muslims and Christians in 1982. Read morePublished on November 1, 2010 by Kiwifunlad
One would expect a tale about two kids coming of age during a civil war to be bursting with emotion. In this regard, the book totally misses the mark. Read morePublished on June 12, 2010 by Car Samuels
De Niro's Game is the story of two best friends struggling to navigate through the chaos and tragedy of Lebanon's civil war. Read morePublished on January 1, 2010 by Nadeem Muaddi
Rawi Hage's novel benefitted from the exotic character that novels of this sort always get, especially that it is one of those rare pieces of fiction that take place in war ravaged... Read morePublished on July 29, 2009 by il postino
In De Niro's Game, Rawi Hage tells about a place and time that I was very interested in. I have not read anything else about Beirut in the 80's. Read morePublished on December 21, 2008 by Richard Pittman