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Bingo's Run

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  134 ratings  ·  26 reviews
For fans of Dave Eggers, Teju Cole, and James McBride, comes this extraordinary novel of morality and the redemptive powers of art that offers a glimpse into an African underworld rarely described in fiction.

Meet Bingo, the greatest drug runner in the slums of Kibera, Nairobi, and maybe the world. A teenage grifter, often mistaken for a younger boy, he faithfully serves W
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2014)
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Amy
Feb 14, 2014 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: africa
A good read for when you're feeling cynical. Everyone is a hustler in this story of Nairobi slum life. The police chief, the orphanage priest, the art gallery owner, maybe even the hotel cleaner. Certainly Bingo himself.

I'm not usually a fan of child narrators, but I fell for Bingo and his 13 commandments and the bits and pieces of fable-like stories that he remembered his grandfather telling him.

The best part of the book has to do with a contract that Bingo has a very unusual, street-side type
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Beth
I've seen favelas in Rio and huts in the worst of Soweto, but never seen the Nairobi garbage dump in Kibera where Bingo the midget lives but I feel I have seen it from James Levine's portrayal! Bingo at 14 years appears jaunty as "the best" drug runner. He slips in and out of nice hotels and office buildings with his "white" and brings money back to his boss and gets his little cut. He seems to have learned to read and hustle when younger. This is a story of who hustles whom. The drug bosses, th ...more
Martin Hamilton
An unexpectedly enjoyable book with a thoroughly original main character.
Narfy
This book is escapism at its best, even if the place you're escaping to isn't a paradise. I felt I got a very realistic portrayal of life in a major African metropolis where everyday is a struggle to survive and the ability to outwit is perhaps the most necessary skill.

The main character of Bingo is a precocious teenager, who believes nobody can outsmart him and, due to his experience, is mistrustful of almost everyone and everything. He's not perfect, and is certainly a criminal, but he's stil
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Supriya
Excellent book. Gives one a view of the nitty gritties of the hard life that children in the slums of Nairobi live from day to day. Full of humor and an entertaining read despite the grim subject. Speaks to the skill of the author that he is able to sketch out a lovable character who, despite all his faults, is able to evoke sympathy from the reader. Very human also, as every character has both merits and faults.

A bit like the Other Hand by Chris Cleeve. But that book was ultimately more realis
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Benita Applejacks
I really liked the beginning of this novel but it went somewhere totally unexpected and much less interesting. Bingo's ability to manipulate his circumstance is often impressive and actually endearing, despite it usually involving crime. Unfortunately, it turned in to some weird American-saviour piece. I enjoyed the writing and there were some lines in there that definitely stuck ("When you plow nothing you get nothing, but I still wanted to) and helped me feel an intimate understanding with the ...more
Anne
"But I start each day as I left the last - just me, Bingo. I carry nothing of yesterday. The past weighs you down; too much past and you stop. I am Bingo. I am a runner; the greatest runner in Kibera, Nairobi, and probably the world."

"I thought how quiet it must be under the blanket of the tarmac. There, everything is silence. But life is not that simple. Show me one road where the tarmac is smooth and even. You cannot. We are driven over so much that every road is cracked. No one knows quiet pe
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Judy
The city of Nairobi is as foreign to me as the world of the drug barons in its slum suburb of Kibera. But Levine has managed to make Bingo, the teenage drug runner at the centre of this book, and Nairobi, from its garbage strewn slums to its five star hotels, as familiar as any foreign city could be.

Bingo, also known as “Meejit” because of his short stature, is barely four feet tall and at age fifteen has the appearance of a ten year old, which helps him to fly under the radar of the local poli
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Jennifer
This book was frustrating to read in some places, but even with the question mark of an ending, the message throughout stayed consistent: things are not always what they seem, and every creature on earth is somehow struggling to survive. This book was unlike anything I have read before, sometimes strange, sometimes disturbing, but just so good. Will definitely pick up Levine's first book, too.
Trailhoundz
This was a quick read, and I enjoyed the writer's writing style. HOWEVER, I never really liked the main character and didn't have much sympathy for anyone else in the book, either- the characters were just too flat and cartoony for me. The ending was really bizarre and I found the folk tales didn't weave into the story as seamlessly as they could have.
Sara
A very special and unique book. It has everything it needs in it to be a best read of the year. A great mix of humanity and hope in the slums of Kibera. You think you know where it is going but it keeps twisting and turning. You'll finish reading it with a smile on your face. Some great lines of writing and provocative philosophies of life. Bravo to the author!
Chris
a very original book. Bingo is a very interesting character. He's surrounded by danger at every turn, and a lot of moral questions are presented. The reader is never sure who he can trust.
Liz
I read this in Nairobi and it was hard to believe I was reading about the same city. That came as no surprise, given that I was staying in a posh area and have never been to Kibera. "Bingo's Run" is a good reminder that just because you've physically been to a place doesn't mean you know it in any deep way.

I liked the book a lot in the beginning, but then it veered too far into parable and magical realism for my taste. The ending seemed to just throw all the characters together in a rather super
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Dpalange44
There's just something about this book that made me want to keep reading. Perseverance, irony, and the art of the hustle. Great novel about surviving.
Marysha
i liked it and its main character bingo... hard life and difficulty trusting anyone but he does not spend alot of time feeling sorry for himself.
Jordana
This was the last book I read in 2013, and it was a great way to end off my literary year!

Bingo’s life is no laughing matter. It’s horrifying and terrible and beyond belief. Yet, it is real. However, Bingo’s matter-of-fact narration of the horrors and experiences of his daily existence somehow makes for a constant chuckle (sometimes uncomfortable).

Sometimes insightful Catcher in the Rye set in Kiberia, sometimes quirky modern comedy of errors, this book was un-put-down-able.
Ben
A wonderful little story about a boy from the slums of Kenya.
Brenda
Different approach to understanding part of the 'third world'
Frances
An interwoven series of hustles, primarily Bingo, a drug-runner, and Colette, an American art dealer.
Deanna Herrmann
If thre were 1/2 stars it would be a 31/2.
Summer
outstanding characterization and world building; Levine does a great job of making every last bit of Nairobi come to life and the characters in this book will stick around long after you finish. Audio version is HIGHLY recommended for reader Peter Macon's nuanced and riveting performance.
Julie
Not as good as his first book but still does a nice job of detailing the life of one impoverished African child through a modern day story and folklore.
Jennifer
I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last. For a tale about a young boy running drugs it was awfully funny. At the same time it pulled on every heart-string. I found myself rooting for Bingo in a big way. Bingo's Run was an eye-opener of a book that left me feeling culture-shocked, grateful, and amazed.

Would I recommend it? Highly.
Angela
I couldn't get past the first chapter.
Gaye
The narrator was the best thing about this book. It was funny at times but also disturbing.
Jane
interesting, amusing.
abcdefg
abcdefg marked it as to-read
Dec 19, 2014
Elizabeth Barter
Elizabeth Barter marked it as to-read
Dec 17, 2014
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James A. Levine é Professor de Medicina na Mayo Clinic, cientista de renome mundial, médico e investigador.
Vive atualmente em Oronoco, no estado do Minnesota. Recentemente, viajou para Índia e, em Mumbai, onde esteve a entrevistar meninos de rua, ficou-lhe na mente a imagem de uma menina sentada na berma a escrever num diário. Esta visão foi tão marcante que o inspirou a dedicar-se à escrita.
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