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Carnival Paperback – 5 Jun 2014
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Dark and compelling, a restlessly energetic and kaleidoscopic work (Financial Times)
A rich and often beautiful, brave, engrossing, intelligent, literate, funny and very human novel. I enjoyed this book in so many ways. I relished this novel - for its compassion, its lyricism and its great human spirit (Guardian)
Exuberant, sublime, startling, surreal and breathtaking (Sunday Times)
Quite simply, a brilliant writer . . . Funny, angry, perceptive and poignant, Carnival confirms Hage's status as a star in the literary firmament (Toronto Star)
Every form of laughter this side of uproarious guffawing - the smile, the chuckle, the suppressed giggle, the nudge nudge, wink wink - comes into play in Rawi Hage's Carnival. A display of literary derring-do . . . both his funniest and his most serious book (Globe and Mail)
About the Author
Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war during the 1970s and 1980s. He emigrated to Canada in 1992 and now lives in Montreal. His first novel, De Niro's Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for the best English-language book published anywhere in the world in a given year, and has either won or been shortlisted for seven other major awards and prizes. Cockroach was the winner of the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Top customer reviews
I put this off for a while. It looked like it might be a bit of a slog, an unusual narrator and story.
And yes, it was unusual. Fly, a city taxi driver narrates the story of his life as a paid driver, his own history, and some snippets from those of his customers and other drivers. We see more than we'd like to of Fly's fantasy life and of his incredible-sounding towers-of-books apartment.
He's a reader, a watcher, a smart man with a fascinating history and someone who seems all sorts in his taxi, from drug dealers to transvestites to rich Arabs.
It's not the easiest of reads, with the change in time period regularly, sections that talk about Fly's childhood in a circus, then to one that follows a friend then to Fy in the present.
That said, once you're open to a flitting narrative, it's quite quick to pick up the threads. It's a bit of a mix of Taxi Driver and Hotel Babylon, an insight into the life of a driver and of his many and varied passengers.
It's all set at the time of the city's month-long carnival, when normal conventions seem not to apply and the strange and unusual flock to the festivities.
There are sad parts, very funny parts and lots of intelligent conversations.
Not the most straightforward read but quite an unusual and enjoyable one. Wouldn't have picked this up ordinarily but glad I gave it a try.
When it started I thought it was going to be magic realism but at some point then I thought maybe he was just imagining the whole lot and at one stage I wondered if he was mentally ill. By the end I had no idea & didn't care - I was just glad to get it over with. It was an easy enough read & I wanted to keep going to see would it improve but can't say that I felt it did & wouldn't recommend it.