De Niro's Game
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De Niro's Game is the stunning winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the very first novel by up-and-coming Lebanese literary star Rawi Hage, also author of Cockroach.
Bassam and George are childhood best friends who have grown up on the Christian side of war-torn Beirut. Now on the verge of adulthood, they must choose their futures: to remain in the exhausted, corrupt city of their birth, or to go into exile abroad, cut off from the only existence they have known.
Bassam chooses one path - obsessed with leaving Beirut, he embarks on a series of petty crimes to fund his escape to the West. Meanwhile, George amasses power in the underworld of the city, embracing a life of military service, organised crime, killing, and drugs. But their two paths inevitably
collide, with explosive consequences.
De Niro's Game is Rawi Hage's devastating, timely portrait of two young men and an entire city formed and deformed by war.
'A large and unsettling talent' Guardian
'A masterpiece . . . writing cannot really get much better' Literary Review
'Hollywood noir meets opium dreams in a blasted landscape of war-wasted young lives' Boston Globe
'The most subtly nuanced, psychologically compelling book about the corrosive effects of war to be written for a long time . . .The descriptions of the city are so skilful you can taste the dust in the air' Financial Times
Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war. He is the author of De Niro's Game, which won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; Cockroach, which was the winner of the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize and also listed for various other prizes; and Carnival, to be published by Hamish Hamilton/ Penguin in April 2013. He lives in Montreal.
chests, our knuckles, and our heavy, red eyes. We drove toward the darkened city lit by dim lanterns hung on barricades. The city’s feeble rays bounced off shiny soldiers’ boots. When I arrived home, the phone rang, but I did not pick it up. I lay down on my bed. I could not sleep. I pulled out the gun from beneath my shirt and hid it under the mattress. Noises came from below: cat fights, occasional rushing feet, murmurs, quiet murmurs that entered my mind and my dreams and turned into familiar
with the other sleeve. I walked out of the apartment and down the street, and Monsieur Laurent followed me. Then he rushed to walk beside me. Abou-Dolly, the grocer, passed us. He ignored me, but turned his face to Monsieur Laurent, and they both nodded politely to each other. At George’s place, I knocked on the door. Laurent stayed down by the entrance, pacing with his cigarette, coughing an old man’s cough. I banged on the door again. Finally Bébé opened it, half-naked, half-asleep. Is
with whisky connoisseurs serving Saudis with trimmed goatees, with a few underground Playboy Bunnies with soft, white cotton tails. Fuck him. I will sleep in a cabin with two beds and room service. Fuck that brute. I just have to save a few bubbles from the effervescent water in the sink, and I will just swallow them for air, and wait underwater for the mambo tune to come back. That is what I will do. But the monster would watch me, and slap me as I turned navy, the colour of the deep sea, the
trigger one night, and the blood from his brain had stained the cocaine on the table, and George’s shirt, and Issam’s face, and my chest. We had carried him down the stairs, Issam and I, and laid him in the back seat of his car. It is no use blocking the flow of blood, George said to me. He is gone. When we arrived at the hospital, we waited in the hallway and smoked, without remorse. We smoked until the paramedic came out and asked us for the dead man’s name and the story of what had happened.
visa was stamped in it. 20 THE NEXT MORNING, I WOKE UP EARLY, RUSHED TO RHEA’S apartment building, and rang her bell. Her sleepy voice came through the intercom. I have the visa, I said. Tu veux du café? she asked. Oui, I answered. She buzzed me up, and I found her walking slowly around her kitchen. Her nightgown was thin, white, transparent. She must have felt my eyes penetrating her short robe because she looked back at me and caught me staring. She quietly went to her room, changed