Sunday, January 8, 2012

De Niro's Game

I just finished Rawi Hage's "De Niro's Game", a must read novel about the Lebanon civil war in the context of East Beirut. If you have seen the movie "West Beirut", then you would certainly wish to see this book turned into an "East Beirut" film. Rawi Hage is an excellent novelist and storyteller and you will appreciate the bald use of Arabic style in his English prose underneath every sentence, very elegantly crafted to the smallest detail. His images are so vivid, modern, and creative. The book will hook you from the start and will keep you holding your breaths until you have finished it. Then you will rush to open the second book he wrote "The cockroach" also breathtakingly beautiful. I liked "The cockroach" more but that's maybe because I read it first and was impressed by this very perceptive novelist. You will also not miss the influence of Albert Camus' "the stranger" on both novels and the similarities between Rawi Hage's main character and narrator and the protagonist of the "the stranger" which he refers to in "De Niro's Game". What also made me appreciate Rawi Hage even more is that although he writes in English, you will not get the impression that he is writing to a Western audience. Both novels can be described as universal by all means, but you will enjoy reading them more if you are an Arab, particularly Lebanese, and especially if you know and appreciate Arabic literature.

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