Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964 to an Arabic-speaking Christian family who were exiled to Cyprus during the the civil war in Lebanon. He lived in New York for nine years before immigrating to Canada in 1991 or 1992 and settling in Montreal. Hage earned an arts diploma from Dawson College and a B.A. in visual communication from Concordia University. He is an accomplished photographer as well as a writer. His work was included in the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s exhibition The Lands Within Me: Expressions By Canadian Artists of Arab Origin from October 2001-March 2003.

Fiction

Beirut Hellfire Society

Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2018.
On Order

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Beirut Hellfire Society follows Pavlov, the twenty-something son of an undertaker, who, after his father’s death, is approached by a member of the mysterious Hellfire Society–an anti-religious sect that, among their many rebellious and often salacious activities, arrange secret burial for those who have been denied it because the deceased was homosexual, atheist, or otherwise outcast and abandoned by their family, church, and state. Pavlov agrees to take up his father’s work for the Society, and over the course of the novel acts as survivor-chronicler of his torn and fading community, bearing witness to both its enduring rituals and its inevitable decline.

Combining comedy and tragedy, Beirut Hellfire Society is a brilliant, urgent meditation on what it is to live through war. It asks what, if anything, can be accomplished or preserved in the face of certain change and certain death. In short, this is a spectacular and timely new work from one of our major writers, and a mature, exhilarating return to some of the themes the author began to explore in his transcendent first novel, De Niro’s Game.

Awards and Honours

2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (Finalist)
2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize (Longlist)
2018 Governor General’s Literary Award, English Fiction (Finalist)

Book cover of Carnival

Fiction

Carnival

Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2012.
PS8615 .A355 C37 2012

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Fly is a wanderer and a knower. Raised in the circus, the son of a golden-haired trapeze artist and a flying carpet pilot from the East, he is destined to drift and observe. From his taxi we see the world in all its carnivalesque beauty and ugliness. We meet criminals, prostitutes, madmen, magicians, and clowns of many kinds. We meet ordinary people going to extraordinary places, and revolutionaries trying to live ordinary lives. Hunger and injustice claw at the city, and books provide the only true shelter. And when the Carnival starts, all limits dissolve, and a gunshot goes off…

Awards and Honours

2012 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (Finalist)

Fiction

Cockroach

Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2008.
PS8615 .A355 C62 2008

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal’s restless immigrant community, where a self-described “thief” has just tried but failed to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree in a local park. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a well-intentioned but naïve therapist. This sets the story in motion, leading us back to the narrator’s violent childhood in a war-torn country, forward into his current life in the smoky émigré cafés where everyone has a tale, and out into the frozen night-time streets of Montreal, where the thief survives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged, but willfully blind, citizens who surround him.

Awards and Honours

2008 Governor General’s Literary Awards–Fiction (English) (Finalist)
2008 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction (Quebec Writers’ Federation) (Winner)
2008 Roger’s Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (Nominated)
2008 Giller Prize (Finalist)

Fiction

De Niro’s Game

Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2006.
PS8615 .A355 D45 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

… Bassam and George are childhood best friends who have grown to adulthood in wartorn Beirut. Now they must choose their futures: to stay in the city and consolidate power through crime; or to to 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.

Awards and Honours

2006 Governor General’s Literary Award–Fiction (English) (Finalist)
2006 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction (Winner)
2006 McAuslan First Book Prize (Winner)
2006 Giller Prize (Finalist)
2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Winner)
2008 Prix des libraires du Québec–Lauréats Roman québécois (Finalist, for French translation: Parfum de poussière

Book cover of Finding the Words

Anthology (Non-fiction)

Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules

PS8373.1 .FR56 2011.

Hage, Rawi. “On the Weight of Separation and the Lightness of the Non-belonging.” In Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules, edited by Jared Bland. Toronto: Emblem, 2011, 227-235.

Anthology (Short story)

Tok. Book 4

PS8237 .T6 T54 2009

Hage, Rawi. “Cough and Brume.” In Tok. Book 4, edited by Helen Walsh. Toronto: Zephyr Press, 2009, 31-40.

Closer to Home book cover

Anthology

Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait

TR681 .A85 B97 2008

Byrnes, Terence. “Rawi Hage on the Roof.” In Byrnes, Terence. Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait. Montréal: Véhicule Press, 2008, 94-95.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Bayeh, Jumana. “Undermining the Christian City in Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game.” In her The Literature of the Lebanese Diaspora: Representations of Place and National Identity. London: I.B. Tauris, 2015.
Electronic Book (Access restricted to members of the Ryerson community) On Order

Dahab, F. Elizabeth. “The Arab Canadian Novel and the Rise of Rawi Hage.” In Edinburgh Companion to the Arab Novel in English: The Politics of Anglo Arab and Arab American Literature and Culture, edited by Nouri Gana, University of Edinburgh Press, 2013.
On Order

Halabi, Zeina. The Unmaking of the Arab Intellectual: Prophecy, Exile and the Nation. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2018, c2017.
On Order

Hout, Syrine Chafic. Post-war Anglophone Lebanese Fiction: Home Matters in the Diaspora. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. This book includes discussions of De Niro’s Game, and, Cockroach.
Electronic Book (Access restricted to members of the Ryerson community)

Osborne, Marilyn Huebener. “The Changing Isolation of the Outsider: A Time-based Analysis of Four Canadian Immigrant Writers .” M.A. thesis, University of Ottawa, 2013. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Available as an open access thesis from http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24062

Links and Other Resources

Publisher House of Anansi Press

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada, owner of the Knopf Canada imprint

Reading Guide to Cockroach from House of Anansi Press

Reading Guide to DeNiro’s Game from House of Anansi Press

Kaouk, Aïda, ed. The Lands Within Me: Expressions by Canadian Artists of Arab Origin. Gatineau, Que.: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2003.
N6549.5 .A65 L36 2003