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Bingo's Run

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  223 ratings  ·  47 reviews
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 Wolf, the drug lord of Kibera. Bingo spends his days throwing rocks at Krazi Hari, the prophet of Kibera’s garbage mound, “lipping” safari tourists of their cash, and hanging out with his best friend, Slo-Georg ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2014)
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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrEverything I Never Told You by Celeste NgConfessions by Kanae MinatoThose Who Wish Me Dead by Michael KorytaBellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
Alex Award 2015 Winners
6th out of 10 books — 3 voters
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrBellweather Rhapsody by Kate RacculiaBingo's Run by James A. LevineConfessions by Kanae MinatoEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Alex Awards 2015
3rd out of 10 books — 2 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 645)
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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
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
...more
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
Linda
Wow. This book took me on quite a departure from my insular suburban America neighborhood! Bingo is an orphan in Nairobi surviving by being a drug runner. He lives day by day, not looking into the future more than where the next run will take him. He witnesses a drug-related murder and gets sent to an orphanage to protect him from retaliation. Ultimately he gets adopted by an American woman, an art dealer, who Bingo suspects is also a hustler like him.

I enjoyed the escape to a new land that thi
...more
Martin Hamilton
An unexpectedly enjoyable book with a thoroughly original main character.
Donna Siebold
Bingo makes his living as a drug runner. He lives in Kenya. He is proud of his ability to run the drugs without being caught. But, one night he sees one drug dealer kill another one. The murdering drug dealer had specifically told Bingo not to deliver drugs to the dead drug dealer until after 9 p.m. Because he wanted to meet a girl Bingo went early. So, he was there when the dealer was shot. He steals some money and a gun from the scene. The first drug dealer sends him to an orphange to hide (no ...more
Lisa Cook
Finally the last of the Alex Winners. Phew!

This book was all over the freaking place. I loved the beginning and then had so many moments of, "wait, what?!" that I found it hard to finish this novel. Bingo's Run tells the story of a teenaged drug runner in Nairobi. With a terrible past, and frankly, a terrible present, he does what he can to survive and swears excessively in the process. Then there's a drugged-out master artist? Then there's a murder? Then there's an orphanage? Then there's a whi
...more
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
...more
Linda
I slapped myself upside the head over this book. We ought to hate everyone of the characters including the protagonist, Bingo. Although he is a thief, a drug runner, and sexually promiscuous, he is the only character who is capable of caring about other people. I know that sounds like an awful premise for a book but Bingo is smart, funny, and plans to live for awhile in a society where life is cheap. Interlaced with the story of Bingo are stories of the Trickster. And we realize that Bingo is th ...more
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
...more
Marisa Gonzalez
Fictional story of a teenage midget who is a drug runner in the slums of Nairobi. After witnessing a murder he ends up in an orphanage where he discovers that life after drug running has just as many scams and tricksters as life in the slums. This book gives an insight to how some young people in impoverished countries are forced to turn to a life of crime and live under the control of ruthless drug dealers just to have the basic necessities of life. I enjoyed this book but it does take a mystic ...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
...more
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
...more
Julia
I didn't really like this book much at the beginning. Bingo's life is centered among the most corrupt and vile people. Bingo is an orphan and a drug runner. BUT...as the story unfolded, I began to love the characters in this book - The African Picasso Hunsa, The Philosopher Krazi Hari, Slo-George, Colette Steele, Charity, and Bingo, of course! As lovable as these characters are, the villains are particularly loathsome. I found myself routing for Bingo and Colette as I raced through the African u ...more
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!
Gail Anderson
Bingo is an orphan in Kiberia, Nairobi who makes a living running "white" for the drug lord, Wolf. When a white woman from the US offers him a way out he has to chose his future and decide if the cost is too high.
E Patrice
Bingo's run is a terrific novel about a drug runner in Nairobi. Bingo has all kinds of mishaps, adventures and wonderful things happen to him, especially when an American woman decides to adopt him and take him to America. Suspenseful, this book fully engaged me.
Belinda
I really enjoyed the voice talent Peter Macoo that narrated this audiobook. Gives some insights to the struggles of poverty and how people find themselves in dire situations time and time again.
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.
Kris
An insightful look into street life in Kenya and some hilarious moments are portrayed, but ultimately the plot doesn't deliver the punch that the early chapters led me to expect.
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
...more
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.
Pattie Babbitt
Very different book from what I would normally read, but I quite enjoyed it. The dialect made the reading slow at first, but it also made it really fun to read (and I am usually not a fan of dialect). You really end up routing for the main character Bingo.
Nancy
Bingo is a teenage drug runner in Nairobi, Kenya. Graphic portrayal of what it takes to survive in a country run by drug lords.
Claire
I don't know much about this author, and I feel confused about whether he could accurately get into this character's head. However, this was entertaining and interesting.
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.
T Byrd
didn't like as well as "blue notebook" but still a good read
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1309839
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.
More about James A. Levine...
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