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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nitty, Gritty And Poetic
I got this gem of literature for Christmas this year. At first I thought I wouldn't like it. Hage doesn't follow grammar rules for his conversations, and he has this weird habit of going on poetic ramblings when describing something. It was a bit disconcerting at the begining but I quickly fell in love with his style of writing. His dark subject matter mixed with poetic...
Published on Jan. 13 2007 by Erico

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6 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Beirut
I didn't enjoy this book at all, although I did get through it. Edmonton has chosen it as the first book in their "Edmonton Reads" campaign, and I don't think it was a good choice at all. Is war a reality, yes, but does a whole city have to read such a dark novel, with such violent brutality and sexual brutality to comprehend the effects of war?
I couldn't identify...
Published on June 24 2007 by Edmonton reads


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nitty, Gritty And Poetic, Jan. 13 2007
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
I got this gem of literature for Christmas this year. At first I thought I wouldn't like it. Hage doesn't follow grammar rules for his conversations, and he has this weird habit of going on poetic ramblings when describing something. It was a bit disconcerting at the begining but I quickly fell in love with his style of writing. His dark subject matter mixed with poetic prose is a powerful combination.

DeNiro's Game is set during the Lebanon Civil War. The protaginist, Bassam, is a young adult on the Christian side of war torn Beirut. While Bassam is fixated on leaving Beiruit, his life long friend, George, is a rising star among the local militia. While bombs fall all around, Bassam, a thug in his own right, sets out on a series of jobs to fund his departure to his dream city: Rome.

As you can guess by the synopsis above this novel does not deal with the bright side of human nature. The bombed out neighbourhood that is the setting for the story is littered with thugs and guns aplenty. Hage captures the gangster allure perfectly, right down to the gun in the belt, and the cigarette in the mouth. He also succeeds equally in cornering the essence of young men, with their sexual daydreams, reckless abandon, and rock hard stoicism. It's gritty subject matter but the author - with his own experiences in Lebanon - is up to the challenge of describing it.

To balance out this dark streak the book throws in a lot of poetry. Bassam will ramble on for about half a page about one thing taking it further and further. A great little sample of this type of writing is found on the back cover. I found this style weird at the start and in fact found it was one of my favourite parts of the book as the story progressed.

This is a great novel. It is a dark tragic page turner that you won't want to put down. I give it ten thousand stars out of ten thousand.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hypnotic, June 11 2006
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
A great book. I enjoyed the pace that never lets off, and the literary style. The book was very effective in transporting me to the setting of the story. I also enjoyed the humor and subtle way the author denounced the folly of war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Beirut, Jan. 11 2007
By 
Kelly Rossiter (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage is a compelling story to two young men in war ravaged Beirut. Brutality is a way of life for these men - one works with the militia thugs getter deeper and deeper into degradation while the other tries to remain on the outside and dreams of another life. The protagonist is forced to leave Beirut and it is quickly apparent that he only knows how to get what he wants by force. He is an outsider everywhere. The book is beautifully written and I found it impossible to put it down. Be aware that the violence is pervasive and sometimes quite difficult graphic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Brutality, Oct. 4 2007
By 
Usman Hamid (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
Hage's debut novel is a no holds barred look at one of the most violent and brutal moments of Lebanese history. Hage does not attempt romanticize war or to demonize it. Instead he captures with poetric beauty the desensitization that occurs when people live under terrible circumstances for a considerable period. The pill was tough and bitter to swallow, and I, lacking any empathy or even sympathy for the protagonist, am not the biggest fan of the book but I can appreciate its importance and the tenacious prose that flows like poetry. The novel grazes your skin and exposes you to the harsh reality of the world. This isn't a book for everyone but it deserves every accolade it has received.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, Oct. 7 2006
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
This is a superb book that could not be more timely. It is a wonderful tale of humor, poetry, and the power of the human spirit to adjust to any adversity. It gave me a rich and enjoyable overview of Levantine culture through the eyes of two friends who grew up together, yet were destined to have different paths. The writing is refreshing as it differs from the myriad of books out there that all sound the same. In summary, a fabulous book that I could not put down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Classic, June 1 2006
By 
Joey Raheb - See all my reviews
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This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
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.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, April 18 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
This novel is one of the best I have read in years. It is a book that offers a fascinating tale told in a humorous, and uniquely poetic voice. It is so refreshing to read a book that stands on its own, undefinable, enjoyable and surprising at every turn. It reminded me of my experience reading Nabokov, and how I could not stop myself from smiling and marveling at the brilliance of the prose. The insight into Lebanese and Middle-Eastern culture and the Lebanese civil war is insicive and unapologetic, and I found myself transported, moved and quenched.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book, Nov. 12 2008
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
I finished De Niro's game a few days back, but am just getting around to making an entry now. In short, I liked this novel. Author Rawi Hage does a good job, I think, of capturing what it is like to live and grow up in war-torn Beirut. As I read the story, I felt as though I could feel the internal struggle facing the two protagonists. Do they try to escape the city and a life in the militia, or do they join the militia and enter into a life of questionable practices.

According to the dust jacket, Rawi Hage lives in Montreal. And, at one point during his novel (and I'm not giving too much away by saying this) it is suggested that one of the protagonists move to Canada. This little bit of writing started me wondering. How much of the story is fiction, and how much of it is based on Hage's own experience? Are the characters a split of the experiences Hage endured, or are they a composite of all the people he knew growing up? Given the chance, I would have enjoyed talking with him about this.

Nonetheless, the book is well written. The language is easy to digest and the plot is easy to follow. I can see why the book was a Giller and GG finalist. Pick this book up and give it a read. It won't take you very long and is well worth it.
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6 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Beirut, June 24 2007
By 
Edmonton reads "reader" (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: De Niro's Game (Hardcover)
I didn't enjoy this book at all, although I did get through it. Edmonton has chosen it as the first book in their "Edmonton Reads" campaign, and I don't think it was a good choice at all. Is war a reality, yes, but does a whole city have to read such a dark novel, with such violent brutality and sexual brutality to comprehend the effects of war?
I couldn't identify or sympathize with the characters at all, and I wish the glossary in the back was somehow pointed out at the beginning, because then maybe more of it would have made sense.
I read a lot - fiction, non-fiction and this was one of my least favourite books of late. Everyone seems to be raving about this book, but it certainly wasn't worth it for me.
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