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De Niro's Game

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  3,039 ratings  ·  314 reviews
De Niro's Game is the stunning winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the very first novel by up-and-coming Lebanese literary star Rawi Hage, also author of Cockroach.

Bassam and George are childhood best friends who have grown up on the Christian side of war-torn Beirut. Now on the verge of adulthood, they must choose their futures: to remain in the exhausted, corru
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Penguin (first published April 12th 2006)
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3.74  · 
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 ·  3,039 ratings  ·  314 reviews


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Grace
Apr 02, 2012 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
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Erinn
Mar 19, 2008 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
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jan 03, 2009 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
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Jason
Mar 14, 2015 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
Adam
Apr 17, 2010 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
Kendra
Jun 11, 2010 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
...more
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
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Lata
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit, abandoned
Got about 30% in and just couldn't get any further.
Megan Baxter
Unfortunately, this was another book from the CBC list of the "100 Novels That Make You Proud To Be Canadian" that I really didn't like. At this point, the tally is a few books I've liked a lot, several that were meh, and almost as many that I strongly disliked. Unfortunately, De Niro's Game was one of the latter, and I can say that whoever compiled this collection has vastly different taste from mine. I'd drop the list, but I'd like to keep some Canadian content in my reading cycle. If you know ...more
Baselkaskas
Mar 12, 2010 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.
A.J.
Aug 26, 2008 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
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Myriam
May 10, 2012 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
William
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was blown away by the first 2/3 of this book. Set in Beirut during the Isreali invasion and cleansing of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebannon, the book presents the events through the eyes of minor Christian thug. By turns heroic, then ruthless the thug/protagonist manages to avoid conscription into the Christian militia, or fall prey to his best friend, DeNiro's game. War time treachery, petty criminality, and middle east politics all come together in a convincing portrait of a man and c ...more
Andrei
Jul 07, 2015 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
Ziad
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lebanon-related parts were great. An apt description which makes you boil. However, towards the end, the level of mastery is gone; the connection you felt with the Beirut Narrative is gone and the Third part (Paris) feels as if it's being loaded more than it can handle. Nevertheless, it's a jolting injection of the complexity of the Lebanese Civil War, even amongst friends and allies. A good and quick read without a doubt, perfect for being a travel book.
Heather
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simply El-Haj is a great writer
Heather(Gibby)
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very engaged in this book up until the point when Bassam left Beirut, then the book kind of lost me.
Julia
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
Twist ending, was not expecting it. Very erratic writing style, sometimes hard to follow but is very raw.
Pamela
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
C
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, the horrors of war! The writing is stylish albeit a tad over the top. But the story is excellent; it keeps surprising me.
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
Dawn
I'm stuck right in the middle with this book. I didn't think it great, I thought the characters indifferent and the setting fractured, but I didn't think it bad, the writing was good, the time and place interesting.
Andrea
Oct 02, 2010 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
Bigsna
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Ardita Çaesari
Jan 16, 2010 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
...more
Celeste
Sep 17, 2008 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
Megan Howe
Mar 11, 2013 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
...more
Mohawkgrl
May 27, 2010 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
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Rhlibrary
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
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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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“الطيور تحلّق وكنت أتوق بدوري إلى التحليق بعيدًأ” 10 likes
“لم أكن أهرب من الحرب ، بل من فيروز وأغانيها” 8 likes
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