De Niros Game plunges readers into the timely story of two young men caught in Lebanons civil war. Bassam and George, best friends in childhood, 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. Told in a distinctive, captivating voice that fuses vivid cinematic imagery and page-turning plot with the measured strength and beauty of Arabic poetry, De Niros Game is an explosive portrait of life in a war zone, and a powerful meditation on what comes after.
DeNiro's Game won the 2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe, and is open to books written in any language. It is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.
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 mothers radio was on. It had been on since the start of the war, a radio with Rayovac batteries that lasted ten thousand years. My mothers 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...
A viciously intense, poetically raw story, interspersed with moments of dark humor, about two young men - Bassam, the narrator, and his friend since childhood, George - known as De Niro, for his habit of playing Russian roulette like Robert De Niro's character in The Deer Hunter. Beirut is their playground and their prison, violence a fact of life. Some of their friends and family are dead; some have joined the fighting; some have fled the country altogether; others, like George and Bassam roam the street as thugs - "aimless, beggars and thieves, horny Arabs with curly hair and open shirts and Marlboro packs rolled in our sleeves, dropouts, ruthless nihilists with guns, bad breath and long American jeans" - looking for ways to make money through whatever means necessary - because money, and the luck to stay alive long enough to spend it on either getting ahead or getting out, are all that matter.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1217 words).
A Short History of Lebanon
The area now known as Lebanon (map) was settled by the seafaring Phoenicians (also known as Caananites) around 3,500 BCE. They established city states such as Beirut, Tyre and Sidon. Over the next five millennia the area would come under the control of numerous empires including the Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman Empires. Throughout this period the area, like much of the Middle East, was not a defined country.
Following World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allied ...
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