Ten Thousand bombs had landed on Beirut and I was waiting for George

From the opening line to the last word, Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game makes the numeral 10,000 into a metaphor for chaos, infinity and action. It resounds through the novel as the protagonist lives through a civil war.

The story is nice but the use of the English language by a writer whose first two languages are Arabic and French is commendable. This is my favourite line:

I looked at the sky. It was covered with light signals from faraway planets bursting with gas and the happy bonfires of dead humans singing warriors’ songs in a landscape of burning rocks, and sending Morse code signals to ships steered by alcoholic captains into islands inhabited by sirens who sing in cabarets and offer up their salty sex organs that taste like the marinated fish of Sunday’s family gatherings after the families have endured the moralistic discourse of fat priests who douse congregations with incense spilled from the pendulum motion of their jerking hands, a motion that rocks like the swings in parks that are swamped with baby strollers pushed by Filipino nannies on temporary visas and with small paycheques that are transferred at Christmas to faraway families who live in huts by the sea and receive Morse code signals from those old creatures from astral space.

Whew! What a sentence.

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