De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage
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.
House of Anansi Press, 2008.
ISBN: 9780887848131. 277 pp.
Softcover. Very good.