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Carnival: A Novel

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  560 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
A stirring new masterpiece from the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award–winning author of Cockroach and De Niro’s Game.

In Carnival, internationally acclaimed author Rawi Hage takes us into the world of Fly, a taxi driver in a crime-ridden apocalyptic metropolis.
Raised in the circus, the son of a golden-haired trapeze artist and a flying-carpet man, Fly sees everything, taking in a
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 17th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published June 20th 2012)
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Popular Answered Questions

Maya I met him in person and he autographed his 1st edition of this book for me.
Loved it, big fan of his.
Do you know that all his books are handwritten?
I met him in person and he autographed his 1st edition of this book for me.
Loved it, big fan of his.
Do you know that all his books are handwritten?
I gave this book to my grandson .But you can order it on Amazon.
But what I strongly recommend is to watch HBO series " Carnival"
Unforgettable master piece.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,102)
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Stephen P
Apr 21, 2015 Stephen P rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who face the touchstone of pain.
Recommended to Stephen by: Proustitute
Soaring. The air exploding past. Venturing high over the drum of human misfortune. Fueled faster by the rush of adrenaline, the meth-amphetamine calamity speeding toward your brain. No sear. No pain. Unless you touch down. Your only relationship, physically, emotionally, is with yourself. Your name is Fly. This is what you do.

You are not there to be motioned forth by a uniformed doorman, to be directed by a dispatcher. An independent driver you fly the cab through the city streets. The pulsing
Cora Tea Party Princess
Vague, rambling, beautiful, shocking, disturbing, intelligent, fantastical...

Pick a word, any word. It will probably go towards describing this book in some way.

This is a very grown-up book. It's one of those books that you have no chance of understanding while still growing-up and probably won't understand even when you're grown. I'm still not sure what I read. This book is confusing and disturbing, but I finished it pretty quickly. I carried on reading. Even when I felt like I was going to be
“Everything ends with a flight, I thought…”

O strange and wondrous story of an ordinary man “conceived on the circus trail by a traveler who owned a camel and a mother who swung from the ropes.” This story of a circus performer-turned-taxi driver is perhaps not as strange as Hage’s last novel which featured a cockroach. Suffice it to say, Hage wants to take us out of our comfort zone so that we really look at what his characters are experiencing, thinking, and saying.

The sympathetic and unnamed
Sep 20, 2013 Krista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, can-con
True open seriousness fears neither parody, nor irony,
nor any other form of reduced laughter, for it is aware
of being part of an uncompleted whole.
— Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World

I had forgotten this epigram by the time I finished reading Carnival. I was musing about this book and trying to think what it reminded me of and it seemed liked it owed a debt to both Infinite Jest and A Confederacy of Dunces, not in a derivative way, but in an overall feeling. I looked up some reviews of A
Feb 05, 2016 Rihab rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carnival! what a mess and how happy I am to turn your last page and finally feel peace. I’ve been tortured for days by this book but I don’t know why I enjoyed it.
Going up and down, jumping from a story to another without a real plot and without a real purpose. That’s how I could describe this book.

The main Character is Fly a man who lives his days without a purpose, he enjoyed his Taxi rides without thinking “what I’m going to do next”, he is so lonely, so ironic and obsessed with masturbatio
Diane S ☔
Aug 25, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
3.5 Fly, is a taxi driver and in the perfect position to see all the misfits and unfits the city has to offer. He has keen powers of observations and some of his commentary is just downright funny. The book is told in short vignettes that chronicle his transactions with the people he picks up in his cab, as well as his personal life and his inner personal life. He loves books, he has them everywhere and the girl he meets, Mary loves books as well. He is a very interesting character as are the dr ...more
Nathaniel Popkin
Nov 05, 2013 Nathaniel Popkin rated it it was ok
This review appeared originally in Cleaver Magazine:

Fly, the narrator of Rawi Hage’s fabulist novel Carnival, released in the US on June 17, is a literature-obsessed taxi driver—and child of circus performers—who imagines himself a super-hero, avenging wrongs perpetrated on the vulnerable and the poor. Books—particularly the subversive kind—are his sword. One night, he picks up an arguing couple. The woman, Mary, is crying. Her husband berates her for her introverted, bookish ways. He wants som
Mar 10, 2016 Shane rated it liked it
Hage revisits the world he revealed to us in Cockroach, the underbelly of human society. In the earlier novel there was no mistaking Canada and Montreal as the setting but this novel is set a during a carnival period in an anonymous city that has a mountain within it. Montreal again? The protagonist, Fly, (a relative of cockroach?) is a taxi driver who roams the city picking up and dropping off undesirables, lost souls, and clowns.

The novel is episodic although some elements tie together in the
John Hanson
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. Fly was born in a circus and his hard life landed him in a city we presume is Montreal, though he never names it, as a loner, a bibliophile, a solo-sex addict, and a taxi driver who cannot say no to a fare as long as he gets paid. The story runs into a carnival held in the city and things go astray.

Rawi Hage's writing is dreamy, anarchist and historically rooted, irreverent, and lingers into magical realism -- his carnival existence, his flying carpet, h
May 27, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, english, canada
True open seriousness fears neither parody, nor irony,
nor any other form of reduced laughter, for it is aware
of being part of an uncompleted whole.
— Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World

So, I'll come back to this review when I have studied it in detail for my bachelor paper. Of course, most of you will limit yourself to a single lecture, and for those people who are simply interested in reading a wonderful book, I'll just list a few thoughts right now.

Rawi Hage has his roots in Lebanon, but
Nov 01, 2012 Kendra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giller-nominee
Take the ingredients of Rawi Hage's second novel, Cockroach: a disenfranchised outsider character observing the humanity from a liminal position and an expert writer with a keen eye to the details of life's sorrows and joys. Mix up those ingredients a second time, and you get Carnival, a slightly more hopeful novel that still manages to show life's sadness.

Fly is a taxi driver, driving the streets of an unidentified city, picking up whoever solicits his services. Fly observes other taxi drivers
Dec 14, 2013 Petr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
Na druhý a třetí čtení pořád úchylárna, ale dobrá. Po spíš pomalým a imaginativním začátku se to rozjede a Karneval začíná.

Moucha je taxikář a milovník knih. Obklopuje se jimi, a když je v té správné náladě, lehne si ke knihovně na koberec po otci a s napřaženým (metaforickým) kopím se vrhá do víru historických událostí a mezi postavy, které ze stránek vystupují. Po nocích projíždí městem a v jeho autě se vystřídá spousta postav mnohem skutečnějších, ale o to fantastičtějších a bizarnějších.

Midya Rahman
Jun 12, 2015 Midya Rahman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a good book is the one that plays with your tempers; the one that shivers and warms you, the one that makes you smile and grief; the one that hits the bones of your existence.

Carnival, is a rich book, that deals with lowest genre of the society, it reflects the modern human that is an outcome of war and ideology conflict. a human that is bare of faith or belief.

the novel is full of dirt, human dirt, that makes you disgust; the books takes you to new insights, into the narrow quarters of cursed,
Alex Fallis
Nov 07, 2012 Alex Fallis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Beautiful writing- I love the flights of description and the flow of the words. I think that it will haunt me for a while (and there are certain sections I will return to often).
Mar 14, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
poetic / powerful / political / poignant / PERFECT book!
Kaj Peters
Waan en werkelijkheid zijn onlosmakelijk met elkaar verbonden in dit existentialistische proza over een taxichauffeur die rondrijdt in een stad in verval. Deze Fly doet weinig meer dan levensbeschouwelijke conversaties voeren met kleurrijke figuren en tijdens het masturberen fantaseren over grootse historische gebeurtenissen. Het levert een broeierig stuk proza op dat niet zozeer enkele narratieve lijnen volgt, maar dat zo opgebouwd is dat het steeds subjectief ingekleurde verhalen door derden i ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Izzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Keywords: Circus life, taxi driver life, reading, friendship, life
Summary: Fly was born in a circus. His mother was a trapeze artist and his father who came from the east, owned a camel and a flying carpet. Fly’s father became a believer, pinned his carpet to the ground then left him and his mother alone and never came back. To cope with it, Fly’s mother started having lovers whom Fly was aware of, then she passed away. He was next raised by the bearded la
Amal Dahouk
كرنڤال مجموعة قصص صغيرة، صغيرة جداً في رواية. قصص ركاب وسائقي تاكسي وفلاي. الأحداث تتوالى كما
تتوالى مشاهد اي مدينة.

كرنڤال رواية لا بأس بها لكنها لا تحرك فيك ساكناً. قد يكون السبب في هذا ضعف الترجمة العربية. فتأتي الكلمات ثقيلة مصففة وباردة. وقد يكون السبب أيضاً شعوري بالتشابه الكبير بين فكرة الرواية وفيلم taxi driver لروبرت دينيرو من انتاج عام . مع هذا انصح بقراءتها ولكن بالانجليزية، لا لشيء الا لكم الكتب الرائعة التي يذكرها المؤلف بسلاسة في سياق الرواية وأضيفها انا بعطش الى قائمة الكتب التي ل
Jan 03, 2014 Tuck rated it really liked it
during carnival i seen sometimes the rich become poor and poor rich. nice turn ugly, downtrodden trod. but what about if everyday turns into carnival? hage is soooo good at being the mind of his young outsider protagonist, and even if their actions are despicable, even confused and self defeating and ultimately horrible and just wrong, you pull for them. or i do anyway. even fly, the book reading, foul, thoughtful, psychotic cabbie in a canada you never knew i want him to succeed. in what? not d ...more
Sep 19, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: serious
I've been reading books lately that run toward metaphor's or allusion's finish line, using a relay of plot points like cardboard cut-outs and characters that one can't completely sink into.

That said, I love the way Hage writes. I love Fly's observation of the Spiders. I love the way he organizes his library. I love how he crosses borders of the city, sexuality and myth.

The Coen brothers could make a movie out of this, I think.

What made it a three star read?
As a female reader, all I needed was o
Jun 20, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok
Shelves: galleys
I was drawn to this book because of the carnival aspects of it. Fly was born from circus folk, and eventually ended up as a cab driver in an unnamed city. He drives around picking up random strangers, some friends, girlfriends, prostitutes, etc.

His adventures often involve poor decisions - including making his friend dress as a clown and force "book haters" to read passages at gunpoint.

While I understood the point of telling the story in tiny vignettes - as if it were simply the tiny view of l
Full Stop
Jun 09, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: summer-2013

Review by Eamon O'Connor

When was that last time you took a cab? What was the experience like?
When I posed this question to a random assortment of friends, I received the following responses:

“I took a cab on Friday night and the man was very quiet and pleasant. He was Israeli and he was clearly very excited I had cash instead of a card. Also there was a news story on the cab TV about a little boy who wrote a book about chocolate to raise money for his frien
Oct 14, 2012 Mairead rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous. I think maybe I have a thing for books where the narrator is clearly not thinking sensibly and kind of wanders around destroying their life.
Anyway, this was kind of like Carnivore which was also fantastic and as for plot details it's mostly about this taxi driver and his messed up life and he's kind of crazy and a lot of stuff happens between him and other people because basically he's an outsider 'cause he doesn't understand people and what they do and why and it's fascinating.
Aug 10, 2014 Ali rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, just beautiful.
Sep 07, 2015 Andree rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 2015
Two stars almost feels generous. I bumped it up because of the idea and concept, but I'm not sure this is successful as a novel. There were some interesting descriptions, but it feels more like a series of snapshots or vignettes, and less like a novel as a whole.

As far as I can tell, this is the story of Fly the cabbie. I think the Carnival refers to the carnival of his life, and less an actual carnival in a way. I don't know, this was less about the actual carnival in the town and more about th
Jul 24, 2014 Gerhard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014
I always wonder about encountering an author for the first time when he already has a number of books under the belt. Is the one I just read, my first, representative of those prior ones? Has he advanced his craft, or is he just treading water? At the end of the day, one can only ever judge a book on its individual merits; even going back and reading earlier ones is not the same as following an author book to book right from the beginning of his career.

Of course, this is the natural process by w
Becca Nedwetzky
Mar 19, 2014 Becca Nedwetzky rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who enjoy something interesting and different
Recommended to Becca by: the new books section of my local library
I honestly really loved this book. I love the writing of Rawi Hage and I loved the rich and colorful characters. I won't say a lot about the book because I feel the less you know going into it the more you will love it, but I will give a quick summary and a warning.

This book is about Fly. Fly is the son of circus folk, raised by a bearded lady, and later moved to an unnamed city where he becomes a cabbie. This is a few weeks in his life. We meet many interesting characters like pimps, prostitute
Graeme Lottering
Pointless plot, pedantic style. I can see how the author tried to create a Kafkaesque mood, but I feel this was forced, and the elements of magic realism seemed mechanical at times, instead of flowing from the narrator's consciousness. There are some good lines, but overall, I found it hard to finish.
Jun 03, 2013 Oriana marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
From Flavorpill, primary online arbiter of my literary tastes: This hectic, swirling novel is a perfect fit for the frenzy of summer, cobbled together from stories of a cabdriver in fictional Carnival city. Like any carnival worth its salt, lunatics, drunks, wild children, and sharp voices abound.
Jan 01, 2014 Mazen rated it it was amazing
Simply put, "Carnival" by Rawi Hage is the most imaginative piece of contemporary English literature I have read in recent years, and I'm not saying that because the author is a fellow Lebanese-Canadian. World: take notice of this über-talented writer and get ready for the taxi ride of your life.
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Book Lovers Book ...: Carnival by Rawi Hage - Summary 1 8 Mar 01, 2014 12:37PM  
Hello Hemlock!: Carnival (October 2013) 3 24 Nov 04, 2013 09:42AM  
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Rawi Hage is a Lebanese Canadian writer and photographer.

Born in Beirut, Hage grew up in Lebanon and Cyprus. He moved to New York City in 1982, and after studying at the New York Institute of Photography, relocated to Montreal in 1991, where he studied arts at Dawson College and Concordia University. He subsequently began exhibiting as a photographer, and has had works acquired by the Canadian Mus
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“Everything about her seems to be saying, Listen, if you don’t look attentively, if you don’t go beyond my simplicity to detect the simmering volcano in me, you are not it.” 10 likes
“What the fuck is legal in this universe? Stars eat each other, wolves eat the pigs, and Grandma fucks over Little Red Riding Hood.” 4 likes
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