De Niros Game

by Rawi Hage

House of Anansi | February 21, 2007 | Trade Paperback

De Niros Game is rated 3.3333 out of 5 by 3.
"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."

In Rawi Hage's astonishing and unforgettable novel, 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 wartorn 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 brilliantly fuses vivid, jump-cut cinematic imagery with the measured strength and beauty of Arabic poetry. His 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.

Awards:
Scotiabank Giller Prize
Longlisted (2006)

Governor General's Award: Fiction
Shortlisted (2006)

Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
Winner (2006)

McAuslan First Book Prize
Winner (2006)

Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize
Shortlisted (2007)

Commonwealth Writer's Prize (Canada and the Caribbean): Best First Book
Shortlisted (2007)

Prix des libraires du Québec
Shortlisted (2008)

IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Shortlisted (2008)

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 280 pages, 8 × 5.4 × 0.74 in

Published: February 21, 2007

Publisher: House of Anansi

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 088784765X

ISBN - 13: 9780887847653

Found in: Fiction and Literature

save 5%

  • Out of stock online

$18.95  ea

Online Price

$18.95 List Price

Cart

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Reviews

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 3 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 has just won 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 5 out of 5 by from Absoloutely worth the read! An excellent, compelling novel. The imagery takes you to the times and moments of the book. The author exquisitely captures the feelings and thoughts as if your own. A real shame not to read.
Date published: 2006-12-30

– More About This Product –

De Niros Game

by Rawi Hage

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 280 pages, 8 × 5.4 × 0.74 in

Published: February 21, 2007

Publisher: House of Anansi

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 088784765X

ISBN - 13: 9780887847653

Read from the Book

De Niro's Game: excerpt I Ten thousand bombs had landed, and I was waiting for George. Ten thousand bombs had landed on Beirut, that crowded city, and I was lying on a blue sofa covered with white sheets to protect it from dust and dirty feet. It is time to leave, I was thinking to myself. My mother's radio was on. It had been on since the start of the war, a radio with Rayovac batteries that lasted ten thousand years. My mother's radio was wrapped in a cheap, green plastic cover, with holes in it, smudged with the residue of her cooking fingers and dust that penetrated its knobs, cinched against its edges. Nothing ever stopped those melancholic Fairuz songs that came out of it. I was not escaping the war; I was running away from Fairuz, the notorious singer. Summer and the heat had arrived; the land was burning under a close sun that cooked our flat and its roof. Down below our white window, Christian cats walked the narrow streets nonchalantly, never crossing themselves or kneeling for black-dressed priests. Cars were parked on both sides of the street, cars that climbed sidewalks, obstructed the passage of worn-out, suffocating pedestrians whose feet, tired feet, and faces, long faces, cursed and blamed America with every little step and every twitch of their miserable lives. Heat descended, bombs landed, and thugs jumped the long lines for bread, stole the food of the weak, bullied the baker and caressed his daughter. Thugs never waited in lines. George honked. His motorc
read more read less

From the Publisher

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."

In Rawi Hage's astonishing and unforgettable novel, 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 wartorn 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 brilliantly fuses vivid, jump-cut cinematic imagery with the measured strength and beauty of Arabic poetry. His 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.

Awards:
Scotiabank Giller Prize
Longlisted (2006)

Governor General's Award: Fiction
Shortlisted (2006)

Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
Winner (2006)

McAuslan First Book Prize
Winner (2006)

Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize
Shortlisted (2007)

Commonwealth Writer's Prize (Canada and the Caribbean): Best First Book
Shortlisted (2007)

Prix des libraires du Québec
Shortlisted (2008)

IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Shortlisted (2008)

Bookclub Guide


Questions for Discussion

1) The city of Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War (1975?1990) is the setting of De Niro’s Game. Almost 100,000 people lost their lives in this conflict. How much did you know about the war before reading the book? What impression of the war did the novel give you? Did reading it make you want to learn more about the history of this war?

2) Hage’s writing style is poetic, merging images from the present, the near past, and the reaches of history. How does this layering function in telling the story?

3) De Niro’s Game is told in three parts — I. Roma, II. Beirut, and III. Paris. Part I is highly poetic, setting the tone and stage for the rest of the novel; Part II uses storytelling by secondary characters to relate stories from the war and stories of exile; Part III reads much like a journal. How does this three-part structure work to tell the story?

4) Hage’s quotation from Ezekiel — “And the breadth shall be ten thousand” — refers to chapter 45 of the book of Ezekiel in the Bible, which describes what the measurements are to be of a holy district set aside for God. What effect does the repetition of the number “ten thousand” throughout the book have on the reader? How is it connected to Hage’s portrayal of religion in the novel?

5) There is frequent mention of dogs, cats, and birds throughout the novel. What purpose does this have? How did the story of the dog executions affect you as a reader? Why does Bassam say, “All cities should be emptied of men and given to dogs”? What is the significance of the partridge that follows Bassam from Beirut to Paris?

6) Genevieve says that she knew Beirut before the war and that it was a beautiful place. In fact, it was the intellectual capital of the Arab world and a major commercial and tourist centre until the civil war began. Bassam also reminds us that Beirut is an ancient Roman city. Why does he want to go to Rome? What overtones of the fall of the Roman Empire are reflected in the novel?

7) Bassam calls Fairuz, “the notorious singer” and mentions her frequently throughout the novel. Fairuz, who became internationally famous in 1971, is known as “Our (Lebanese) Ambassador to the Stars.” During the Lebanese Civil War, Fairuz never left Lebanon but, as a form of protest, did not hold any concerts there to avoid showing favour to either side. However, her voice was heard frequently on the radio. What purpose do the references to Fairuz serve in the plot?

8) Bassam observes, “That day, as I remember, there was a ceasefire and few clouds.” What do you think the author is saying here about the adaptability of humans? Try to imagine how you would react to such daily concerns as an intermittent flow of electricity and water and no garbage collection. Discuss how you imagine you would react to fifteen years of falling bombs.

9) “Dust flew onto shop windows, dust landed on silky, exposed thighs; everyone inhaled it, everyone saw through it, dust from the undertaker’s shovel, dust of demolition, dust of fallen walls, dust falling from Christian foreheads on a holy Thursday. Dust was friendly and loved us all. Dust was Beirut’s companion.” Discuss how the image of ever-present dust works in the novel. How does it reflect Beirut?

10) Bassam says, “Death does not come to you when you face it; death is full of treachery, a coward who only notices the feeble and strikes the blind.” Joseph says, “No one dies before his time comes.” How does fate operate in the story? Why does Bassam refuse to go into the bomb shelter? Why do the young men play “De Niro’s game” of Russian roulette?

11) The Sabra and Shatila massacre is a real event that took place from September 16 to September 19, 1982. Between 700 and 3500 Palestinians were killed in the manner described by George. George says the whole thing was “like a movie” and that some of the killers were high on cocaine. Is desensitization essential to war? What does George mean when he says “the torture chambers are inside us”?

12) Bassam says, “I could not remember when, exactly, Paris had started to move south, or when it had finally deserted its colonies and slid back north.” What does Monsieur Laurent’s life reveal about colonialism? What does Bassam’s reading of Jean-Paul Sartre’s L’Étranger reveal about colonialism?

13) “I had finally succeeded in leaving and had entered those posters with the happy fountains and the pigeons,” says Bassam. Why is he unable to reconcile the real Paris with the one he has heard about? Why does he create his own imaginary revolutionary army while in Paris?
Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart