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De Niro's Game

Written by Rawi Hage

Introduction by Colm Toibin

Series Title: A List

  • 288 Pages
  • 9781770892507
  • 8.5" x 5.5"
  • FICTION / Action & Adventure
  • FICTION / Literary


Publication Date October 13, 2012

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. In Rawi Hage's unforgettable novel, winner of the 2008 IMPAC Prize, this famous quote by Camus becomes a touchstone for two young men caught in Lebanon's civil war. Bassam and George are childhood best friends who 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. Bassam chooses one path: obsessed with leaving Beirut, he embarks on a series of petty crimes to finance his departure. Meanwhile, George builds his power in the underworld of the city and embraces a life of military service, crime for profit, killing, and drugs


Told in the voice of Bassam, De Niro's Game is a beautiful, explosive portrait of a contemporary young man shaped by a lifelong experience of war. Rawi Hage's brilliant style mimics a world gone mad: so smooth and apparently sane that its razor-sharp edges surprise and cut deeply. A powerful meditation on life and death in a war zone, and what comes after.

Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2008

Winner of the QWF McAuslan First Book Prize 2006

Winner of the QWF Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction 2006

Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Awards: Fiction 2006

Short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2006

Short-listed for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2007

Short-listed for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2007

Short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2006

Short-listed for the Prix des libraires du Qu├ębec 2008


Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war. His debut novel, De Niro's Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, was a finalist for numerous prestigious national and international awards, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award, and has been translated into several languages and published around the world. His second novel, Cockroach, won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Rawi Hage lives in Montreal.

Colm Toibin
Colm Toibin is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and essayist. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.


"...provides an essential historical context to current political turmoil in Lebanon..." Fast Forward Weekly

"[A] masterpiece...writing cannot really get much better than Hage's." Literary Review of Canada

"...De Niro's Game discloses much to a Canadian audience largely sheltered from the physical and emotional effects of war...Bassam's voice, though emotionally restrained, tells a story that is not only vivid, but also illuminating." Matrix Magazine

"...provides an essential historical context to current political turmoil in Lebanon..." The Dominion

"...the incredibly affecting tale of a young man's fight to remain sovereign, intellectually and politically..." The Hour

"De Niro's Game is a feverish nightmare of a book, written with a distinctly European flair...it stubbornly refuses to offer the reader any easy comfort...[readers] will be seduced by the undoubted visceral power of this suddenly current narrative." Toronto Star

"East meets West in this stunning first novel yielding a totally fresh perspective on war-torn Beirut...Both terse and lyrical, Hage's narrative is a wonder, alternately referencing modern American action heroes and ancient Arabic imagery. The blend of the two is as startling as it is beautiful." Booklist

"Hage's energetic prose matches the brutality depicted in the novel without overstating the narrative's tragic arc-an impressive first outing for Hage." Publishers Weekly

"The excitement of Hage's action-packed plot is supplemented by his visually and viscerally descriptive language..." January Magazine

"The novel is full of poetic descriptions of the surreal and horrific nature of war delivered through Bassam's stream of consciousness narrative. There are lines that you are compelled to read again and again due to their raw beauty and their insight into how war irreparably shapes human psyches." Fast Forward Weekly

"A magnificent achievement...the work of a major literary talent." Dublin IMPAC Literary Award Jury