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De Niro's Game

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,142 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
"De Niro's Game" plunges readers into the timely story of two young men caught in Lebanon's civil war. Bassam and George, best friends in childhood, have grown to adulthood in war-torn Beirut. Now they must choose their futures: to stay in the city and consolidate power through crime, or to go into exile abroad,
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published August 21st 2007 by Zoland Books (first published 2006)
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May 08, 2012 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book ended. That was the only disappointing thing about it. I enjoyed reading this book so much to the point where I subconsciously impeded reaching the last chapter.
Every time I come to exhaustively describe a war -the drastic change in the atmosphere that makes the country seem like a whole other one which we are not familiar with, how mothers, children, and fathers feel when they lose a loved one- , I render myself speechless. But the fact that Rawi Hage is able to depict the war with su
Mar 31, 2008 Erinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up from the "new/7 day checkout" section at the front of the library... a favorite place to pick out books on a whim. I am glad I did.

I was very impressed by the poetic prose, the dreamlike quality of the characters experiences. The book is about 2 young men in Lebanon, and the twisted life that they try to live while running under the bombs. I really felt how a person could become quite numb living in such an unreal (or perhaps all too real) situation. It was darkly beautiful and
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 27, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Christine Patten
Shelves: maple-flavoured
From the first pages, it is clear that Rawi Hage can write, that he can paint pictures with words.

Inside their houses, the impoverished women carefully, economically, dripped water from red plastic buckets over their brown skins in ancient Turkish bathtubs, washing away the dust, the smells, the baklava-thin crust, the vicious morning gossip over tiny coffee cups, the poverty of their husbands, the sweat under their unshaven armpits. They washed like meticulous Christian cats that lick their pa
Nojood Alsudairi
May 20, 2012 Nojood Alsudairi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
سحقت الحرب اللبنانية حتى النفس الإنسانية في الشباب. فترة من تاريخ لبنان ربما لو قرانا عنها عدد من الكتب لما فهمناها كما جاءت في هذه الرواية لبساطة الطرح. كم تعاطفت مع شخصية جلال لضياع هويتها بين جاسوس وسكرتيرة. لم تنجُ الفتاة الشرعية أيضا من نفس ازمة الهوية التي عانى منها أخاها وإن كانت ردة فعلها تختلف. لولا الكثير من الصور غير المرغوبة لكانت الرواية القريبة للكمال من وجهة نظري.
شكرا شيماء على إصرارك على قراءتي للرواية وإهداؤها لي.
أوصلني هذا الكتاب لرقم 1000
Mar 14, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Hage's first novel won the 2008 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was shortlisted for Canada's two most prestigious literary prizes, the 2006 Giller and 2006 GGs for its treatment of the Lebanese civil war. The first two sections of the novel deal with the brutality of "home" that Bassam tries to escape in the third act, but a lifelong exposure to war and violence makes this impossible. What interests me is a moment in the third act when Canada is painted as the safe haven for this potential refug ...more
Mohamed Al Marzooqi
في روايته، الحائزة على العديد من الجوائز الرفيعة في كندا وأوروبا، ينشغل رواي حاج ليس فقط برصد التفاصيل اليومية لمدينة تعيش في ظل حربٍ مسعورة (الحرب الأهليّة في بيروت)، إنما أيضًا برصد التحولات التي تحدثها تلك الحرب في بنية الفرد النفسية والاجتماعية، وكيف تمكنت هذه الحرب المجنونة من تحويل مراهقين وأطفال إلى مجرمين

لعبة دي نيرو" رواية أحداث قبل أن تكون رواية شخصيات، أي أن الشخصيات لا تنمو بشكلٍ تراكميّ كما هو سائد، إنّما الحدث هو الذي ينمو وهو الذي سيغيّر في الشخصيات وفي مصائرها. بالطبع لا ت
Thing Two
I read Hage's Cockroach last year, and was not looking forward to picking up this one. As a matter of fact, had it not won the International Impac Dublin award, I wouldn't have bothered. I'm glad I bothered.

This book is about two friends who grow up amid the war in Lebanon. Hage's writing is exceptionally beautiful, especially since he writes about death, and bombs, and beatings, and blood. I found it visually stark, but so compelling I could not put it down. It helps, I suppose, that I recently
Mar 12, 2010 Baselkaskas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 08, 2011 Alshaimaa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
إلى أين أنت ذاهب يا سيدي؟
إلى روما

مابين لبنان وروما أحداث أبدع الراوي "راوي" في نثرها بتناسق مبدع يبقيك متحفزاً حتى نهاية الرواية، ومابين حدث وآخر تفتح فمك رعباً، أو تدمع عينيك ألماً وحزناً
كيف للحرب أن تخلف أضراراً أكثر مما وصفه
كيف للحرب أن تجعلك تدخن سيجاراً وتشرب عصيراً متجولاً في شوارع تنظر للقذائف بطرف عين وكأنها مجرد حمامة نزلت من أعلى لتجمع بعض الأكل !!
كيف للحرب أن تكون أقسى من ذلك
مرعبة هي تفاصيل الحرب
ومهولٌ أن يحكيها شخص كان آخر همه تلك الحرب
مفجعة تلك الوحدة التي يكونها رجال الجيش ليكونون
Aug 29, 2008 A.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, literary, canadian, x
Rawi Hage's De Niro's Game is a rare creature, a first novel that hits it out of the park. Few first novels are so assured or effective.

The novel is set in Beirut, just before and during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. George and Bassam are two petty street thugs eking out a living in Christian East Beirut by any means they can. Bassam dreams of escaping to Rome, while George is only interested in making himself more comfortable. They can't escape the reach of the militia, itself a crim
Jun 11, 2010 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, favorites
Rawi Hage's use of language is superb. He successfully melds magical and wondrous metaphors and allusions into a taut, tightly-wound narrative that is brutal, blunt and tears away human artifice. Bassam is an ambivalent character; I didn't love or hate him, but I felt great pity and sadness for his character that had been defaced by the rigours of the prolonged war.

Many passages I read, and then had to immediately re-read. I love this one:

He pulled out a small bag, and we rolled oily hash into a
May 10, 2012 Myriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected a lot from this book, but frankly I couldn't wait for it to end. It is well written, no doubt about that, and Hage has a unique way of conveying the voices of characters and the sequence of events which I found to be intriguing and compelling. However the story as a whole was somewhat lacking. There is an emptiness at times between the pages where I felt there should have been maybe a deeper rendition of the main character's thoughts. The story didn't fulfill my expectations and that ...more
Jul 29, 2015 Andrei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First time I encounter this author, and I`m astonished of his work. His sentimental narrative style with a pinch of existential philosophy, like Camus, he puts you in a front row of the scene of the real life. Also, like Remarque, he tries to mock the war mongers, by depicting that every single one is a loser during the war times, and the fate will always knock on the door sooner rather than later, so it's better to enjoy life now, than to try to postpone the inevitable. I gave this book 4 stars ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Heather rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-these
Startlingly beautiful, gripping pose. Carries you along at break neck speed from the first word to the last. Didn't enjoy it as much as I would have in another setting (I brought it along as a 'holiday' read and it was a bit too heavy for that.
Midya Rahman
Jun 23, 2015 Midya Rahman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simply El-Haj is a great writer
Jun 13, 2015 Bigsna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a book that I picked up and abandoned for almost a year, I should have known better. Glad I gave it a second shot. De Niro's Game is a raw, naked and unapologetically honest description of what happens to people in times of civil war, which is worse than military war, being so unorganised and misdirected as it seems.

The book is set during the Lebanese Civil War in 1982 and more specifically during what is called the Siege of Beirut. Though we read about and watch news on civil war situation
Aug 15, 2012 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970-present, prose
Rawi Hage is a terrific prose stylist, but this novel doesn't really deserve the sort of acclaim it's gotten. The characters are mostly indistinct and unremarkable, and while war-torn Beirut is fabulously portrayed, in rich detail and with a really fine handling of the political and moral complexities of that war, there are few portions of the book that really work on the whole. I will give Hage credit for never being trite in the way it's so easy to be trite when writing about these things (see ...more
Sue Smith
I don't know what to think about this book. Truthfully - for the most part - I found I was floundering with it. The subject was something I have no basis of experience with to judge it against, and that shouldn't really be a reason to completely pan a book on. But it's based on a reality that is in the here and now of people's lives and I'm woefully - and thankfully - out of such day to day gorilla life experiences. I know it exists, I know some people grow up with this now as a norm and it's al ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
De Niro's game reaches right into the heart of war. What strange bedfellows a tragic series of events can make. In war there is both the inner and outer destruction that takes place. The psychological undoing of people who are in a war ravaged country is really what this story is about. Rawi Hage takes us to the limits of destruction as he gets inside the mind of Bassam the young man and main character in De Niro's Game. Bassam sees the world from a traumatized state of mind; he truly believes ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I checked out Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game from the library because I had spent an hour or so checking out “best book lists” in an effort to overcome my recent spate of terrible reads. It showed up on several lists, and without reading a plot summary, I decided I’d give it a try. I think from the title I expected that the book would be about a game show, or maybe the actor - Robert De Niro. Wrong!

The novel centers on the first person protagonist, Bassam, as he tries to escape Beirut during the Leb
Tricia Dower
Dec 01, 2014 Tricia Dower rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see why this book was widely acclaimed. Hage's use of language is original and powerful. I walked away with the understanding of how war (in this case the Lebanese civil war) can destroy the hopes of a generation. I wasn't sure where the story was going from time to time but the end was the perfect surprise you can only hope for in a story. I love books that make me grow a little.
Megan Howe
Mar 11, 2013 Megan Howe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this at random from the library shelf and was pretty amazed by it. Set in Beirut during the civil war, it's brutal but beautiful. A disturbing and desperate story of two young men, childhood best friends, in the midst of a war which I know very little about. Wonderful writing. Here's an example:
"Ten thousand bombs had fallen and I was waiting for death to come and scoop its daily share from a bowl of limbs and blood. I walked down the street under the falling bombs. The streets were emp
Jan 20, 2010 Ardita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War is bad. War told from the other side is usually worse. Rawi Hage's use of language is indeed a knockout. It's lyrical and graphic at the same time. Despite how the characters were portrayed in the book, it was venting out ample of anger and disgust on being stuck in a war, while the plot and the ending.. that was just something indeed.

I wonder if someone will ever consider making a movie out of this book. It would be interesting to see the interpretation, although the new hot spots in Baghda
Oct 08, 2008 Celeste rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub, bellicose
I read this for my bookclub. I am supposed to lead the discussion and I'm not sure what to say. I guess this is a warm-up. It made me interested in knowing more about Lebanon and who is fighting who and why, but it was quite a harsh book, not the usual romantic war story I like. The characters were not at all sympathetic, but also were. I thought the end was a bit unnecessarily and unexpectedly dramatic (obviously I had not read the description on this website for example) after the more realist ...more
How does your life change when war breaks out all around you? In the very city of your childhood? With bombs falling and violence erupting on every street corner, best friends Bassam and George must find a way to survive the war-torn streets of Beirut during Lebanon’s civil war. The physical and emotional effects of war are conveyed through this compelling story of the choices available and how these young men find themselves on two very different paths to survival. Particularly poignant conside ...more
May 27, 2010 Mohawkgrl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book last summer and picked it up at the library for two reasons; the first is because Mr. Hage lives in Montreal and I wanted to support a fellow Quebecer, and two because I grew up as a neighbour to a Lebanese family in MA., and often heard about the wars in this country.

If you don't mind that it contains a violent plot, this book is for you. I was interested in the characters which Hage does a fine job of defining for the reader. I could easily imagine the story being picked up
A grim story with violence and emotions that have been battered so much that they no longer emote but with a hint of hope to end it.

At times I loved the poetic writing and the repetiton and the destruction in denominations of 10,000 but other times I found the poetry confusing and the repetition, well repetitive. I think the style reflects the story however, that poetry can be found in turmoil but that leads to confusion and living a childhood through civil war is probably very repititious and w
Nov 03, 2014 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel brings the Lebanese civil war of the late 1970's down to the personal level of two boyhood friends growing up under a regular rain of bombs. The writing can be short and punchy or a runaway cascade of images: "Joseph and I drove to Al-Aswaq. The streets were vacant. Little plants sprang from beneath the sidewalk's cracks, lived underneath broken arches, shone in front of looted stores, sprang from the bellies of decaying sandbags, and dwelt in deserted governmental buildings that long ...more
Abdulaziz Alfawzan
الحيوات الملوّنة تختفي وراء المنعطف، والرواية قادرة على جرّ خطونا لكشف تلك الحيوات المخبّأة، والقراءة هي وسيلة الكشف الأجمل لعالم تلك الحيوات الساحرة!
«راوي حاج، كاتب لبناني كندي، ولد في بيروت، وترعرع بين بيروت وقبرص. ثم انتقل إلى نيويورك عام 1982، وبعد إنهاء دراسته في معهد نيويورك للتصوير، انتقل إلى مونتريال، حيث درس الفنون، واستقر هناك» في روايته «لعبة دي نيرو»، يكشف راوي عن حياة جيل من الشباب اللبنانيين الذين عاشوا ضياع وموت الحرب الأهلية، واضطر بعضه إلى الهرب من لبنان بغية البعد عن الموت المج
Logan Doyle
Sep 18, 2014 Logan Doyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really solid, good book. Great story about two teenagers in Beirut during the Lebanon Civil War.

Hage winds a tale of a tormented teenage, Bassam who doesn't take shit and dishes it twice as hard as he receives.

It's well writen, perhaps a bit overwritten in the poetic descriptive cense. It does feel a bit overdrawn by the end of the book as each descriptive passage becomes exhaustive in nature. He really wants you to feel and visualize everything.

I have Cockroach ready to go (his second book
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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
More about Rawi Hage...

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“الطيور تحلّق وكنت أتوق بدوري إلى التحليق بعيدًأ” 9 likes
“لم أكن أهرب من الحرب ، بل من فيروز وأغانيها” 6 likes
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