BookBrowse Reviews Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Paradise, Nevada

by Dario Diofebi

Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi X
Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2021, 512 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Grace Graham-Taylor
Buy This Book

About this Book



A colorful, kaleidoscopic work of fiction placed in the world of the Las Vegas gaming industry that explores the lives of those who stay behind when the tourists go home.

In Dario Diofebi's novel Paradise, Nevada, the neon allure of Las Vegas is pulled back to reveal workers, strivers, gamblers and bit-part characters populating the famous strip. Each of his protagonists has come to the city in search of a fresh start — a new life, a new career — but for many, it proves to be more like limbo, a topsy-turvy world where the ordinary rules no longer apply. Through the fictional Positano, a luxury casino resort designed to be an exact replica of Italy's Amalfi coast (including sea and cliffs), Diofebi presents a vivisection of casino life, exploring all the people who are still there when the tourists go home.

As you would expect, this makes for an interesting and diverse set of characters. There's Ray, the internet-famous online poker wizard, whose obsession with the value of logic over feelings makes him certain he will dominate the live-action "feel players" of the Positano's high-stakes tables. Mary Ann is a former model trying to convince herself that her newfound job as a "bevertainer" is one she should feel lucky to have. Tommaso is an Italian tourist whose lucky streak at the small-stakes tables changes the course of his life forever. And Lindsay is a Mormon journalist who dreams of a career greater than her suburban beat. Their lives interweave, with Positano at the center, until they coalesce around a disaster that is foreshadowed early on.

Professional gambling is a fascinating niche, and Diofebi, an ex-professional poker player, provides the reader with insider knowledge. His descriptions of the high-stakes games are full of excitement and suspense. He also writes with real compassion about the lives of the frequently unappreciated waitresses and dancers — often young, attractive women whose careers are dependent on their looks and who are treated as expendable once they reach a certain age. In part, Paradise, Nevada is a novel about workers' rights, and about the struggle for fair treatment against a house that seemingly always wins.

Though there is much to enjoy about the novel, it feels just a little too long. The ending is sufficiently dramatic, but the middle drags somewhat, and many of the interludes that pepper the story seem like distractions that add little depth. Diofebi seems to be emulating writers such as David Foster Wallace, whose complex fictional worlds include the perspectives of even the most minor characters (Diofebi also uses footnotes, and even phrasing similar to Wallace's at times). Unfortunately, this similarity invites comparison — one that sees Diofebi coming up short. Though the work is certainly ambitious, he doesn't seem to quite have the stamina to keep in touch with so many characters and still draw us on towards the (admittedly exciting) conclusion. However, the breadth of the novel does give him ample room to explore many interesting themes and subcultures — from gentrification to Mormonism to the alt-right.

Las Vegas, with all its absurdity, debauched glamour, opportunism and hucksterism, is prime real estate for the setting of a novel. It promises, if nothing else, to be damn entertaining. Paradise, Nevada makes good on this promise, offering up the perverse magic of this strange city while never letting you forget that it's all just one big show.

This review first ran in the June 9, 2021 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Paradise, Nevada, try these:

  • Grand Union jacket

    Grand Union

    by Zadie Smith

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More by this author

    Zadie Smith has established herself as one of the most iconic, critically respected, and popular writers of her generation. In her first short story collection, she combines her power of observation and her inimitable voice to mine the fraught and complex experience of life in the modern world.

  • There There jacket

    There There

    by Tommy Orange

    Published 2019

    About this book

    Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking - Tommy Orange's first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and it introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career.

Read-Alikes are one of the many benefits of membership. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Join BookBrowse

For a year of great reading
about exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel
    The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel
    by Douglas Brunt
    Rudolf Diesel ought to be a household name. Like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Nikola Tesla, Diesel ...
  • Book Jacket: Move Like Water
    Move Like Water
    by Hannah Stowe
    As a child growing up on the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales, Hannah Stowe always loved the sea, ...
  • Book Jacket
    Loved and Missed
    by Susie Boyt
    London-based author and theater director Susie Boyt has written seven novels and the PEN Ackerley ...
  • Book Jacket: Beyond the Door of No Return
    Beyond the Door of No Return
    by David Diop
    In early 19th-century France, Aglaé's father Michel Adanson dies of old age. Sitting at ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Fair Rosaline
by Natasha Solomons
A subversive, powerful untelling of Romeo and Juliet by New York Times bestselling author Natasha Solomons.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Devil Makes Three
    by Ben Fountain

    A brilliant and propulsive novel set in Haiti from the award-winning, bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

  • Book Jacket

    All You Have to Do Is Call
    by Kerri Maher

    An inspiring novel based on the true story of the Jane Collective and the brave women who fought for our right to choose.

Win This Book
Win Moscow X

25 Copies to Give Away!

A daring CIA operation threatens chaos in the Kremlin. But can Langley trust the Russian at its center?



Solve this clue:

A M I A Terrible T T W

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.