De Niro's Game

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De Niro's Game

by Rawi Hage

April 12, 2006 | Hardcover

De Niro's Game is rated 3.25 out of 5 by 12.

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. In Rawi Hage's unforgettable novel, winner of the 2008 IMPAC Prize, this famous quote by Camus becomes a touchstone for two young men caught in Lebanon's civil war. Bassam and George are childhood best friends who 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, alienated from the only existence they have known. Bassam chooses one path: obsessed with leaving Beirut, he embarks on a series of petty crimes to finance his departure. Meanwhile, George builds his power in the underworld of the city and embraces a life of military service, crime for profit, killing, and drugs.

Told in the voice of Bassam, De Niro's Game is a beautiful, explosive portrait of a contemporary young man shaped by a lifelong experience of war. Rawi Hage's brilliant style mimics a world gone mad: so smooth and apparently sane that its razor-sharp edges surprise and cut deeply. A powerful meditation on life and death in a war zone, and what comes after.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.4 in

Published: April 12, 2006

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0887841961

ISBN - 13: 9780887841965

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hard to read some times, but written poetically. Bassam and George are best friends in Beirut in the 70s where the war is going on. They are just coming of age and have lost a parent or loved one. Follow each of them as they make their decisions on how they will survive through the war and make their mark in their world. Not all is what it seems. The writing is a poetic at times with how things are explained - but inner demons cast everyone as themselves.
Date published: 2012-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth Reading This book "DeNiro's Game" is a great book. Yes the exposition was very dry, however the suspense built, sometimes anti-climax occurred but sometimes it was a page turner. Hage detailed this book with his wit and a keen sense of comic relief. He crafted it so tenderly that it was a worth-while experience to read this.
Date published: 2010-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but... De'Niro's Game was worth reading but it rambled on about nothing for entire paragraphs. I found myself skipping a paragraph here and there because of its rambling. That is my only complaint. It was fast paced, gritty and well worth the read.
Date published: 2009-11-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good book to read for its messages but it fails to be entertaining De Niro’s Game is a novel by Rawi Hage that has won a critical acclaim in Canada and in Dublin winning the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. However awards do not make the book great read, neither do they make it enjoyable to the reader. So let’s look at the book. The book falls into the war fiction category through most of it plot and partially into immigration fiction, refugee, mystery and spy thing for the second. So it is safe to put it as war fiction. The first thing to discuss is the cover of the book, the cover of the book is in line with the theme of the novel but it could be properly understood only when the reader finished reading the novel so it is not the best cover for the book to be appeal to the reader.. The quality of language is superb and enjoyable as the author uses many literary devices and so is able to build a large picture for the reader of the events and of the characters. The narrative itself is done through first person and is clearly due to the lack of use of quotes in dialogue is done in the head of the protagonist as he sees things and comments on them as well as narrating the events. The narrative gives us the picture of the mind of the protagonist and how he reacts to different events and change of settings. The characters and character development are done well. We have the characters that are realistic. These characters have their own demons and do not only commit good acts. They are as one would expect them to act in the situation of such a war. The character development happens through the book as some of the character grow and mature through the book thus changing from their earlier versions. Also the juxtaposition of the characters from Lebanon to the Westerners creates the needed effect that shows how different lives are for these two groups. The themes of the book are the experience of the war for the civilian population, the effect of war on the soldiers, fundamentalism and the dangers it creates, the inability of westerners to comprehend the war, the reluctance of the people who lived through the war to describe it in full colour, finally the problems the refugee from such countries face. The themes are developed through the book; some take the whole book to develop other just in smaller parts of it. In the end the book gives impression of the war. It is of course a biased impression as the work of fiction is not the historical work. The bias should be there as the protagonist is a teenager and it would be absurd to have the protagonist caught in the conflict since the childhood to treat the war philosophically as a struggle between different sides without attaching himself to one side. The author tries to be less biased in describing the atrocities of both sides however that is not that important here. The reader should be looking on the effect of the war on the young teenager. The plot is interesting and the end has a bit of a twist however the plot a bit more of the flaw of the book than the success. The plot is a bit dragged on; narrator seems to drift off in some place too much into strange descriptions of his thoughts and feelings. While they express the narrator’s feelings in many places, they are often dragging on for too long. There is another character, the friend of the narrator, whose thoughts and feeling should have been better explored as he is also is good example of the main themes of the novel. While he is given large lines of dialogue it is not enough. Than there are other problems I saw, it was the use of different languages. While this is great way to give more atmosphere of feeling that the reader reading the novel about foreigners it seems to be not enough to do that and a bit confusing at other points as it seems strange given that narrator is narrating in his mind that he would use different languages. It also seems strange hat the Christians that seem to have strong aversion to the Muslims would use the phrases that contain Allah in them. In conclusion it is an average book as there are better things that could have been done. There are other characters whose minds should have been better explored. The overall the book due to the seed of the plot fails to entertain, and so fails the main reason of the existence of art. It has the good reason why readers should read it due to its themes. The book is not for casual reading but more serious reading.
Date published: 2009-02-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good book to read for its messages but it fails to be entertaining De Niro’s Game is a novel by Rawi Hage that has won a critical acclaim in Canada and in Dublin winning the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. However awards do not make the book great read, neither do they make it enjoyable to the reader. So let’s look at the book. The book falls into the war fiction category through most of it plot and partially into immigration fiction, refugee, mystery and spy thing for the second. So it is safe to put it as war fiction. The first thing to discuss is the cover of the book, the cover of the book has a photograph that looks like a Lebanon with the ruined car, buildings and group of kids. The use of cover is very good and it sets the mood of the book. The quality of language is superb and enjoyable as the author uses many literary devices and so is able to build a large picture for the reader of the events and of the characters. The narrative itself is done through first person and is clearly due to the lack of use of quotes in dialogue is done in the head of the protagonist as he sees things and comments on them as well as narrating the events. The narrative gives us the picture of the mind of the protagonist and how he reacts to different events and change of settings. The characters and character development are done well. We have the characters that are realistic. These characters have their own demons and do not only commit good acts. They are as one would expect them to act in the situation of such a war. The character development happens through the book as some of the character grow and mature through the book thus changing from their earlier versions. Also the juxtaposition of the characters from Lebanon to the Westerners creates the needed effect that shows how different lives are for these two groups. The themes of the book are the experience of the war for the civilian population, the effect of war on the soldiers, fundamentalism and the dangers it creates, the inability of westerners to comprehend the war, the reluctance of the people who lived through the war to describe it in full colour, finally the problems the refugee from such countries face. The themes are developed through the book; some take the whole book to develop other just in smaller parts of it. In the end the book gives impression of the war. It is of course a biased impression as the work of fiction is not the historical work. The bias should be there as the protagonist is a teenager and it would be absurd to have the protagonist caught in the conflict since the childhood to treat the war philosophically as a struggle between different sides without attaching himself to one side. The author tries to be less biased in describing the atrocities of both sides however that is not that important here. The reader should be looking on the effect of the war on the young teenager. The plot is interesting and the end has a bit of a twist however the plot a bit more of the flaw of the book than the success. The plot is a bit dragged on; narrator seems to drift off in some place too much into strange descriptions of his thoughts and feelings. While they express the narrator’s feelings in many places, they are often dragging on for too long. There is another character, the friend of the narrator, whose thoughts and feeling should have been better explored as he is also is good example of the main themes of the novel. While he is given large lines of dialogue it is not enough. Than there are other problems I saw, it was the use of different languages. While this is great way to give more atmosphere of feeling that the reader reading the novel about foreigners it seems to be not enough to do that and a bit confusing at other points as it seems strange given that narrator is narrating in his mind that he would use different languages. It also seems strange hat the Christians that seem to have strong aversion to the Muslims would use the phrases that contain Allah in them. In conclusion it is an average book as there are better things that could have been done. There are other characters whose minds should have been better explored. The overall the book due to the seed of the plot fails to entertain, and so fails the main reason of the existence of art. It has the good reason why readers should read it due to its themes. The book is not for casual reading but more serious reading.
Date published: 2009-02-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Battle scars from a senseless game I was not particularly impressed by the book. Two torn friends head down very different paths in the face of senseless militant combating over religion and power during the Lebanese Civil War. Almost like "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, but less subtilely appreciable. Abrupt sentences with no use of quotation marks got on my nerves for a while but it sunk in with the flow of the gritty novel - fast-paced and intense, mixed with roundabout ramblings of thoughts and emotions. It built on its momentum off the start, but then literally drifted and got lost in a foreign territory.
Date published: 2008-11-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Pure FICTION I hated it. I hated even more when I realised that people were treating it as a reference book of the Lebanese war. I lived in Lebanon during the war (unlike Hage who left Lebanon in 1979), and do not recognise the Beirut this guy is describing or its people. Makes me wonder where does he gets off falsifying facts and history? And how dare he treat a sad, long and very complex war in this irresponsible and one sided fashion? Why any one would give this guy a prize for writing this book is beyond me. This book is, depressing and hurtful, a dark FICTION and slap in the face of people like me who lived the war, inherited its scars and nightmares and lost loved ones to the people Hage is depicting as victims: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damour_massacre. Save your money, and get yourself some actual History books if you want to familiarize yourself with the war in Lebanon.
Date published: 2008-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT READ This is one of the best books I've read. Fast, engrossing, raw, harsh and, at times, sad - it is a mix of things. It is the story of two friends, George and Bassam, who grow up,in different but yet similar ways in Lebenon during the war. They both struggle with the desire for a better life, the desire to stay and protect their life in Lebenon, and a desire to leave the country. It is a compelling read.
Date published: 2008-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Is It a Game? It is the story of two childhood friends. Through a series of powerful cinematic images we can witness what it is like to live in the war-zoned Beirut. It’s not uncommon to take a rifle like we would take an umbrella to protect us from a menacing storm. But does the gun really give the power to fight the unavoidable or does it lead to someone's irreversible fate?
Date published: 2008-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Inside Look at War, and the Horror of Religions Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of that country’s civil war. He immigrated to Canada in 1992. He is a writer, a visual artist, and a curator whose debut novel, De Niro’s Game (2006), was shortlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2006 Governor General’s Award for English fiction. It is currently shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. House of Anansi Press will publish Rawi’s eagerly anticipated second novel, Cockroach, in fall 2008. He lives in Montreal where I caught up with him at the Blue Met International Literary Festival. We talk about living in war conditions, New York, Deer Hunter and Russian roulette, art as memory, the absurdity of war, the dangers of organized religion, fundamentalism, politics and the writer, canoeing and moose, women’s clothing, Arabic poetry and the influence of fathers. Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale Please listen here: http://nigelbeale.com/?p=956
Date published: 2008-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 10,000 assaults of your imagination! I learned more about the turbulent times of the Beirut Civil war thru this book than I would have if I had to study the historical news reports. How sad we must continue to live during hostile times.
Date published: 2007-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Masterpiece One of the best books I have ever read. I could not put it down and had finished it in 2 days. It is a dark portrayal of two young Lebanese men who take different paths through life. You will not want to put this book down as Bassam, the main character and narrator, walks you through the details of his struggles to escape the turmoil of the war. The book is gruesome at times and gives a gloomy portrayal of the desperation of the times.
Date published: 2006-06-02

– More About This Product –

De Niro's Game

by Rawi Hage

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.4 in

Published: April 12, 2006

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0887841961

ISBN - 13: 9780887841965

From the Publisher

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. In Rawi Hage's unforgettable novel, winner of the 2008 IMPAC Prize, this famous quote by Camus becomes a touchstone for two young men caught in Lebanon's civil war. Bassam and George are childhood best friends who 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, alienated from the only existence they have known. Bassam chooses one path: obsessed with leaving Beirut, he embarks on a series of petty crimes to finance his departure. Meanwhile, George builds his power in the underworld of the city and embraces a life of military service, crime for profit, killing, and drugs.

Told in the voice of Bassam, De Niro's Game is a beautiful, explosive portrait of a contemporary young man shaped by a lifelong experience of war. Rawi Hage's brilliant style mimics a world gone mad: so smooth and apparently sane that its razor-sharp edges surprise and cut deeply. A powerful meditation on life and death in a war zone, and what comes after.

About the Author

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war. His debut novel, De Niro's Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, was a finalist for numerous prestigious national and international awards, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award, and has been translated into several languages and published around the world. His second novel, Cockroach, won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Rawi Hage lives in Montreal.
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