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A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return
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A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  960 ratings  ·  205 reviews
When Zeina was born, the civil war in Lebanon had been going on for six years, so it's just a normal part of life for her and her parents and her little brother. The city of Beirut is cut in two, separated by bricks and sandbags and threatened by snipers and shelling. East Beirut is for Christians, and West Beirut is for Muslims. When Zeina's parents don't return one after ...more
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Graphic Universe (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
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
"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 here: the artistic similarities here between this graphic novel and Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" graphic novels. Zeina Abirached, if she h
First Second Books
So beautiful and sad.
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
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
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
May 07, 2013 Mrs W rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
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
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
May 14, 2014 Mora added it
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
This book was wonderful, start to finish. Abirached manages to incorporate an atmosphere of nostalgia and innocence into what is a standard night of fear and uncertainty. Woven into the narrative are charming anecdotes about growing up in the Middle East (waiting for a dial tone, bathrooms without running water). I found myself laughing at common Arabic phrases I didn't expect to see translated into English, such as "what, tsk?" The dark humor in some of the stories, specifically about running t ...more
The graphic novel by Zeina Abirached talks about herself and her younger brother, who grew up during the civil war in Lebanon. Their parents leave the house one day to go visit their grandmother but they don't come back. Throughout the story different characters are introduced who come and stay with them in their apartment. The story of every character is told as they are introduced and they all have different characteristics. The parents finally make it home and then in the end the different ro ...more
Maxine Baghdadi
A Game for Swallows: To die, To leave, To Return revolves around the life of Zeina who has unfortunately been born into the civil war. Her home, Beirut, Lebanon, has been split by bricks and sandbags into the Eastern (Christian) and Western (Muslim). One night, Zeina's parents don't come home after going out. The apartment that Zeina and her brother live in soon quickly fill up with their neighbours where it's comfortable and most importantly, it's the safest apartment. The book goes on discussi ...more
Danya Itani
A game for swallows is a comic about a family that lived in Lebanon during the the Civil War. The comic is written in Zeina's pov as she describes how she lived and survived during the war. In the comic she says that one day her parents leave and she tells us how she kept her and her brother busy with the rest of her family. In the book you find out that the civil war has been going on for a long time already so it's a part of the people's lives and it's constantly on everyone's minds. The book ...more
Buku ini bercerita tentang suatu petang saat orang tua Zeina tidak bisa pulang ke rumah.
Bagi kita yang hidup di sini, pulang ke rumah bukanlah hal yang luar biasa. Namun lain halnya bagi penghuni Beirut saat terjadi perang di Lebanon. Kota Beirut dibagi menjadi dua, ada garis yang memisahkan wilayah Muslim dan Kristen. Melintas garis berarti siap mempertaruhkan nyawa.
Zeina dan adiknya sudah terbiasa dengan suasana seperti ini. Desingan peluru menjadi "musik" dalam hidup mereka sehari-hari. Yang
Edward Sullivan
Another remarkable graphic memoir. In this French import, the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980s is seen through the eyes of a child. The black-and-white illustrations are reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.
A.C.E. Bauer
An affecting novel about the Lebanese Civil War, from the point of view of two children waiting for their parents to return home during a severe bombardment. The kids are surrounded by people from their building who quietly care for them during this particularly tense episode. Despite the dire circumstances, the tone is gentle and hopeful, filled with stories that are sad, happy, and sometimes even funny -- a testament to the humanity of the people involved, and making the book easy to read even ...more
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BYU-Adolescent Li...: A Game for Swallows To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached 1 3 Jun 13, 2013 11:55PM  
Zeina's Grandmother 1 2 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
More about Zeina Abirached...
I Remember Beirut Beyrouth Catharsis Mouton 38, Rue Youssef Semaani Libro del Caballero Zifar

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