Rawi Hage


De Libanees-Canadese schrijver en fotograaf Rawi Hage werd geboren op 1 januari 1964 in Beiroet en groeide op in Libanon en Cyprus. Hij verhuisde in 1984 naar New York City. In 1991 verhuisde hij naar Montreal, waar hij fotografie studeerde aan het Dawson College en Fine Arts aan de Concordia University. Hij begon vervolgens te exposeren als fotograaf en werk van hem is verworven door het Canadese Museum of Civilization in de hoofdstad van Canada. Hij heeft een MFA van de Université du Québec in Montréal (UQAM). Naast zijn werk als schrijver en beeldend kunstenaar was Hage ook een tijd taxichauffeur in Montreal. Hage publiceerde journalistiek en fictie in verschillende Canadese en Amerikaanse tijdschriften en in de PEN America Journal. Voor zijn debuutroman, “De Niro’s Game” (2006) ontving hij de internationale IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2008. Het boek werd genomineerd voor de Scotiabank Giller-prijs 2006 en de 2006 Governor General’s Award voor Engelse fictie. “De Niro’s Game” kreeg ook twee prijzen in Quebec, de Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction en de McAuslan First Book Prize. Zijn tweede roman “Cockroach” verscheen in 2008 en werd ook genomineerd voor de Giller Prize, de Governor General’s Award en de Rogers Writers ‘Trust Fiction Prize. Hage was de winnaar van de Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2008 en 2012 voor zijn boeken “Cockroach” en “Carnival”. In augustus 2013 werd hij de negende Vancouver Public Library’s writer in residence. Hage is de partner van romanschrijfster Madeleine Thien.

Uit: De Niro’s Game

“Ten thousand bombs had landed on Beirut, that crowded city, and I was lying on a blue sofa covered with white sheets to protect it from dust and dirty feet.
It is time to leave, I was thinking to myself. My mother’s radio was on. It had been on since the start of the war, a radio with Rayovac batteries that lasted ten thousand years. My mother’s radio was wrapped in a cheap, green plastic cover, with holes in it, smudged with the residue of her cooking fingers and dust that penetrated its knobs, cinched against its edges. Nothing ever stopped those melancholic Fairuz songs that came out of it.
I was not escaping the war; I was running away from Fairuz, the notorious singer.
Summer and the heat had arrived; the land was burning under a close sun that cooked our flat and its roof. Down below our white window, Christian cats walked the narrow streets nonchalantly, never crossing themselves or kneeling for black-dressed priests. Cars were parked on both sides of the street, cars that climbed sidewalks, obstructed the passage of worn-out, suffocating pedestrians whose feet, tired feet, and faces, long faces, cursed and blamed America with every little step and every twitch of their miserable lives.
Heat descended, bombs landed, and thugs jumped the long lines for bread, stole the food of the weak, bullied the baker and caressed his daughter. Thugs never waited in lines.
His motorcycle’s cadaverous black fumes reached my window, and its bubbly noise entered my room. I went downstairs and cursed Fairuz on the way out: that whining singer who makes my life a morbid hell.
My mother came down from the roof with two buckets in her hands; she was stealing water from the neighbour’s reservoir.
There is no water, she said to me. It only comes two hours a day.
She mentioned something about food, as usual, but I waved and ran down the stairs.
I climbed onto George’s motorbike and sat behind him, and we drove down the main streets where bombs fell, where Saudi diplomats had once picked up French prostitutes, where ancient Greeks had danced, Romans had invaded, Persians had sharpened their swords, Mamluks had stolen the villagers’ food, crusaders had eaten human flesh, and Turks had enslaved my grandmother.”


Rawi Hage (Beiroet, 1 januari 1964)