2000 - 2007 Other Prizes

De Niro’s Game – Rawi Hage

Winner of the 2008 International IMPAC Literary Award, Shortlisted for the Giller Prize 2008

I picked up De Niro\’s Game‘); ?> after a recommendation from Claire at Kiss a Cloud, but I’m afraid that I didn’t love it as much as she did.

The book follows Bassam and George, childhood friends growing up in war-torn Beirut. As you can imagine it isn’t a pleasant read – graphic scenes of death and destruction fill every chapter.  The whole atmosphere of the book is one of helplessness and depression. I appreciate that this is probably a very realistic picture of what life is like for people living with war, but it meant that I found it a very difficult book to read. There didn’t seem to be any spark of hope, only choices between two equally terrible outcomes. I found it difficult to bond with the characters and their violent, vulgar attitude further distanced me from them.

I can see why Claire loved this book – the scenes were described vividly, and the story was both shocking and compelling.

That night, through the flames of a million candles that brawled inside the neighbourhood houses, I walked. Under those lights, hazy behind nylon sheets that covered our broken windows, I walked the streets with no dogs. I walked, and the candles danced inside a city with injured walls, a city void of light, a broken city wrapped in plastic, and plastered with bullet holes.

At times I became annoyed by the repetition. I realise that it was a powerful means to describe the situation the people were faced with, but if I read the words “Ten thousand bombs had fallen” one more time I think I’ll scream!

Overall, this is a beautifully written book, but the futility was too much for me.



Have you read De Niro’s Game?

Can you enjoy a book which deals only with devastation?