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De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage
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it was amazing

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 such vivid descriptions and imageries that no one would think of using to describe a war, is what makes this novel a great one. I think that this portrayal of the war can be attributed to the fact that Hage is a photographer and I think that he made his view on photography clear to readers through Rhea, a minor character in the book, when she said, “Photography is about death. It preserves the illusion of a past moment that can never be re-enacted.”

“But in the absence of an initiative by the Lebanese government to preserve a memory of the war, it was artists and writers who took it upon themselves to create and recreate these events.” said Hage. And this is exactly what he did when he wrote this novel. It is not only the description of the setting, the atmosphere, and the characters that contributed to the brilliance of depicting the war, but also the omniscient third person point of view that the story is written in is what helped the reader feel exactly what s/he would feel if s/he were in a war. Having access to all of Bassam’s thoughts and his great desire to leave the country and get away from everything puts the reader in a place where he is agitated too if one of the characters dies or if something does not go according to plan.

Rawi Hage said in an interview, “I emphasized absurdity in my writing. Absurdity is one of those indefinable ambiguities that lingers between violence, humor, apathy, loss, and even sympathy and hope. War is certainly an ultimate act of absurdity.” And this is what you will find in the novel. All of the aspects that exist in our everyday life are beautifully crammed into this novel. Whether the characters feel it or not, you will definitely get in touch with violence, humor, apathy, loss, and even sympathy and hope while reading this book.

As for the style of writing, I absolutely loved the unconventional ways that Hage used to write the dialogue. Neither quotation marks nor indentations were used and this is what makes the dialogue seem so realistic. It is illustrated as it really is: An uninterrupted conversation between two people who do not have an audience to care about. Also, Hage rarely uses the terms, “sighed, shouted, told…” and leaves it up to the reader to infer what tone the characters adopted while speaking to each other. Also, we become well aware of the fact that Bassam can speak more than one language but Hage leaves it up to us to decide whether Bassam is speaking in Arabic, English, or French. I also loved the scattered slips of Lebanese words and well known, hilarious Lebanese phrases and swear words. In addition to that, the different allusions to the Lebanese culture in general are what I think help a Lebanese reader get in touch with his roots.

Finally, the open end is one of my favorite things in the book. Although this contradicts my opinion of open endings to brilliant novels, I think that Rawi Hage could not have ended the book in a better way. I won’t say anything else about this point because I don’t want to spoil it for future readers.

I highly recommend this book to every reader who is willing to put the teenage, fantasy, lovey-dovey books aside and read something mature which will contribute to his/her intellectual standards. But I also recommend getting familiar with the events of the Lebanese war before because Rawi Hage admitted himself that he wrote the book assuming that the readers would be aware of the Lebanese war and its events.

So there you have it, a brilliant book which unfortunately ended.
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2012 – Shelved
April 28, 2012 – Started Reading
April 28, 2012 –
page 45
April 30, 2012 –
page 105
May 8, 2012 –
page 282
May 8, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Grace Thanks Christine :)

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Even though I don't like war books, I am going to read this book, cause of this awesome review!

Grace YAY! Can't wait to see what you think!

Marcy It is a terrific review, Grace. I'm so happy you enjoyed it so much. I also love this novel and Hage's writing style. If you read his next book let me know whether I should read it or not.

Grace Okay Miss I'll definitely get back to you about the next book but you informed me that there are a few books which I have to read before it so it might take a while :)
Thank you for liking the review...We missed you today in class!

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