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El juego de las golondrinas

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,404 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Beirut, 1984. En una casa, en la habitación más segura, un puñado de vecinos se reúne al resguardo de bombardeos y francotiradores. Comparten miedos y esperanzas, café y la lectura de Cyrano de Bergerac. La pequeña Zeina no olvidaría ninguna de esas noches.
186 pages
Published 2008 by Sinsentido (first published January 1st 2007)
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Much like I Remember Beirut, this is a graphic novel memoir of Abirached's childhood during the civil war in Lebanon. But it approaches the idea from a different perspective. I Remember Beirut was a scattered, but effective, glimpse at a difficult life through details only. A Game for Swallows is a single day in depth, which allows for more perspective, more storytelling, and more character growth. Both books are equally absorbing, and together give a much fuller idea of the life that Abirached ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
The illustrations in this graphic novel are all in black and white, intense, no shades of gray, emphasizing the gravity of the situation a handful of people in an apartment building in Beirut, Lebanon, find themselves in as they wait for the snipers to stop shooting. Zeina and her little brother wait for their parents to return from a trip across town to visit their grandmother. The entire story takes place in the space of a day and night.

The author bases this on her own experiences as a child
"A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return" didn't do much for me. It tells the story of two children spending the night in their foyer while their parents are stuck just blocks away behind the east/west barricade. Neighbors stop by, some worrying ensues, we get a backstory or two, then the graphic novel ends.

Let's talk about the elephant in the room: the artistic similarities here between this graphic novel and Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" graphic novels. Zeina Abirached, if she hasn't
Shellie Foltz
A Game for Swallows was my first foray into a graphic texts. The subject matter seemed incongruous with the format, yet now that I’ve experienced it, I can’t imagine a better way of approaching it. The artwork is sufficiently innocent, providing a stark contrast (just as stark as the black and white pages) to the wartime setting. The author doesn’t shy away from what is going on outside the apartment and never lets you forget what is happening, but just as the characters (and I do mean character ...more
Nicola Mansfield
I read the follow-up to this, "I Remember Beirut", first and enjoyed that much better. This is a single episode of a family and group of friends experiencing a bombing during the Lebanese Civil War. The story isn't political or religious. We just sit in a room with the people as they wait out the bombing and fear for two children's parents who were visiting down the street before the bombs started. An autobiographical story but I didn't find any connection with anyone and mostly found the tale u ...more
First Second Books
So beautiful and sad.
I think it's hard to find stories about war that are appropriate for kids. This graphic novel does a good job at showing exactly what living in a war torn country can be like.
In the same way that Persepolis touched many hearts and informed many minds about parts of the Middle East, this stunning graphic novel describes the lives of ordinary men, women, and children in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, in 1984. Drawing from her own experience as a child, the author/illustrator describes an event that typifies how her parents and neighbors endured those challenging times when even a visit to someone a couple of streets away could result in death from a sniper. When her parents ...more
Michelle Pegram
This graphic novel is the story of two young children who live with their parents in an apartment in Lebanon in 1984 during the civil war which has been going on for 9 years. They live in the foyer of their apartment because it is the place that is the safest should a bomb hit their building, and each night, as the bombings begin, their neighbors gather in their apartment for safety. The story starts on a night when their parents have not made it home from their Grandmother's house that is mere ...more
Zenia Abirached writes about her childhood in Beirut in 1984 during the height of the civil war in Lebanon. Zenia's family lived in East Beirut right on the demarcation line with West Beirut. They gradually moved into the foyer of their apartment as it was the safest place with no windows. Their days are spent trying to survive the constant bombardments and sniper attacks. One day the parents go to the grandma's house and haven't returned by evening. The children are left alone, but gradually th ...more
This book is often compared to Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (in the NY Times and in the admittedly poor introduction to this book), and while I understand the comparison as there is a similar style, time, and theme at work, Zeina Abirached works to create a unique and beautiful story that is quite distinct from the famous Persepolis.
The short graphic novella takes place in Beirut, Lebanon in the 1980's during the civil war. There are snipers stationed at roof tops that will gun down any civili
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I really wanted to like this one, as I generally love global fiction and graphic memoirs, but I generally found the book confusing. I think I would have really enjoyed the uniqueness of the art style had it not seemed so similar to Persepolis. I think in actuality it is rather different, with many black pages with white lines as opposed to the other way around but the moderately thick curvy lines and cultural textures are somehow too reminiscent. The story switches from scene to scene in a rathe ...more
Mrs W
In this autobiographical graphic novel set in 1984 Beirut, Zeina has only ever known the civil war raging there. She, her parents and brother live in a second-floor apartment on the demarcation line splitting Beirut into the Islamic west and Christian east. They’re constantly threatened by bombings and snipers, so the family lives in a tiny corner of the apartment, and during heavy bombings, most of the residents in the building come there, too, because it is structurally the safest place to be. ...more
Son of a Gun
A Game For Swallows: to die, to leave, to return

Pairing and overview:
“A Game For Swallows” is a memoir written by Zeina Abirached about her time in the war torn East Beirut, Lebanon. Sandbags and barrels line the streets of Zeina’s neighborhood to protect the citizens from snipers bullets. In her home, the foyer proves to be the only safe place that her family can find refuge from the violence happening outside. We join the family on a typical night. Zeina’s parents have made the da
A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return by Zeina Abirached
Genre: Memoir
Format: Graphic Novel
Plot summary:Living in the midst of civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, Zeina and her brother face an evening of apprehension when their parents do not return from a visit to the other side of the city.
Considerations or precautions for readers advisory (strong language, sex, death, religious overtones, violence, etc.): Deals with war and death
Review citation (if available):Esther Keller. Library Media
lucy by the sea
2.5 stars. I did like it but found it a bit boring. The pictures were really well done, the continuity was great. The story fell flat for me though.
"A Game for Swallows" by: Zeina Abirached features a young girl named Zeina, her younger brother and a bunch of her wacky neighbors. It takes place in the Lebanon Revolution in the 1980's. When Zeina and her brother are sent to stay with their grandmother in a safer part of their city they always have to keep positive and try not to worry about their parents, neighbors, family, and friends. They have to say in their Foyer witch is the safest room in their home, away from the violence. Their wac ...more
I was fascinated by this memoir set during an event I knew absolutely nothing about- the civil war in Lebanon. The book uses a bold and simplistic-looking artistic style that tells what appears to be a simple story of waiting. Little Zeina and her younger brother wait in their apartment in East Beirut for their parents to return from visiting their grandmother a few blocks away. But "a few blocks away" might as well be miles and miles away, because stepping outside at all near the demarcation li ...more
Leah Jackman
This book is about the cold war in Beirut and a family who is living through the war. The children in this family have never seen a day without war and know what they have to do to survive in their town. Other people of the town use their house as shelter from the bombings because their family lets in their neighbors. This story takes place in a Islamic country where war is the normal thing to everyone. In this story the children are alone and their neighbors continue to join the children to kee ...more
This graphic novel was very interesting! It taught me about a point of history that I've honestly never heard of before and need to learn more about. It isn't like history classes are fixating on places like Lebanon, even if those conflicts could certainly be learned from. I'm glad that there are writers out there telling these stories so that people like me can learn a little and then be intrigued enough to research it further.

I think what's most interesting and confusing about the novel is tha
Reminiscient of Persepolis and The Diary of Anne Frank, Abirached's memoir evokes an equal sense of loss and hope, all at the same time. I love the artwork--stark black and white, yet full of such whimsy--and the thread of optimism that runs through this book leaves the reader with a a huge sense of hope. To consider the ramifications of war as an adult is a struggle for most of us; doing so as a child seems impossible to comprehend, particularly as an American, where our freedoms allow us to ro ...more
Sara  (
This is the most graphic Graphic Novel I've read so far, and by that I do not mean graphic as in violence, but graphic as in visual styles. Yes, the black and white style and Middle Eastern 1980s setting have similarities with Persepolis, but both the art style and the story style are fairly different.

The story is a straightforward narrative of one evening of the author (then a child) and her neighbors trapped in the hallway of their apartment while they wait for the author's parents to return
I was always against reading ebooks because I thought it would give me a headache staring at a computer screen for so long, but I have to say this book was absolutely amazing; regardless of where I read it!!! I feel like on a computer the clarity of her drawings was more precise, and the message of the story was portrayed extremely well. The novel is told through the perspective of a young girl, Zeina, about the war going on in Lebanon. Her parents have gone to visit their grandmother, and canno ...more
"A Game for Swallows" by Zeina Abirached takes place in Beirut, Lebanon during the civil war. The author describes her own experiences as a child living in her apartment building in the middle of the war. Her apartment soon becomes a hub for all the inhabitants of the building as they all crowd into their foyer, with it being the safest room in the apartment. Most of the story spans the time when her parents are trapped at her grandmother's house, and Zeina and her brother wait for their return. ...more
Zeina Abriached approaches her personal story of stories of her family members and their circle of neighbors in the everyday life of East Beirut in war. The story begins on an afternoon in 1984. The parents of a young girl, who narrates this story leave to visit her grandmother, Annie who lives a few blocks away. The young girl and her brother stay home anxiously waiting for their parents return. Meanwhile, neighbors come and go, and the young girl describes their personal experiences. The house ...more
Zeina Abirached writes the story of her childhood, growing up in Beirut during the civil war in 1984. At this time, Beirut is divided in two; the muslim side and the christian side. One day, her parents leave her and her brother to go visit their grandmother. Once there, it is too dangerous to go back. So, Zeina and her brother are left alone in their house. Thankfully, the rest of the residents in the building come to take care of them during this horrible time. All Zeina wants is to feel safe ...more
Pam Davis
Pam Davis
The author of this book is from Beirut. Her county was at war while she was growing up until age ten when it ended. She won an award for her first graphic novel. She later moved to Paris. While doing research she found an article about a woman hiding in a home and realized it was her grandmother. This book depicts those events.
Who were the main characters? The main characters were Anhala, a third generation nanny. Two children in her care Mina and Aminado. Their parents are stuck at the
Such a gorgeous book! Wow, was this ever beautifully produced. It was just a joy to hold in one's hands as the book jacket feels like creamy velvet and the paper is such high matte-coated quality. Like everyone else who looked at this book before starting it, I thought "isn't this a bit of a rip-off of Persepolis with the stark black and white drawings?" Halfway in, I concluded not at all.

The story is completely different than Persepolis. It's true I started over at 70 pages to make sure I was t
In this graphic novel, author Zeina Abirached,shares her memoirs of what it was like to grow up in the midst of the war in Beirut in the 80's. At the beginning of the story we discover that her parents have gone out to visit her grandparents, but have not made it home. A collection of unique neighbors come to stay with her & her brother while they wait for her parents to make it back safely. At times the story causes confusion for the reader. First of all, the book starts with a forward from ...more
I found this book short and sweet with creative and well done illustrations. I like how as the book went on more characters were introduced into the story with their own little background story. It's interesting to read about situations that are close to where I live, or in the same region. The book is about an apartment complex with a whole bunch of different people and personalities. They all come together in the foyer of an apartment during a shooting in Lebanon. As the shooting continues mor ...more
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Zeina's Grandmother 1 4 May 12, 2013 06:19PM  
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Zeina Abirached was born in Beirut, Lebanon. She studied graphic arts in Beirut and later in Paris, France. She has published 3 graphic novels: 'Beyrouth-Catharsis' '38, Rue Youssef Semaani' and 'Mourir, Partir, Revenir - Le Jeu des Hirondelles'. These were originally published in French, and have been translated into Dutch, Italian, and Spanish. Her mainly autobiographical works, illustrated in b ...more
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