Carnival by Rawi Hage

By Rawi Hage

A stirring new masterpiece from the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award–winning writer of Cockroach and De Niro’s Game.
In Carnival, the world over acclaimed writer Rawi Hage takes us into the area of Fly, a taxi motive force in a crime-ridden apocalyptic city.
Raised within the circus, the son of a golden-haired trapeze artist and a flying-carpet guy, Fly sees every thing, taking in all the city’s carnivalesque good looks and ugliness as he roves via its dizzying streets in his taxi. Fly is a reader, too, and while he’s no longer in his taxi he's at domestic within the both dizzying labyrinth of books that fills his tiny condominium. His ally is Otto, a political activist who’s out and in of jails and asylums, mourning his useless spouse and misplaced foster son. On one differently tawdry evening Fly meets Mary, a book-loving passenger with a domineering husband. So starts off a romance that's, for Fly, a short glimmer of sunshine amid the shadows and grit of the Carnival city.

Along with Otto and Mary, Fly introduces us to madmen and revolutionaries, magicians and prostitutes as he selections them up and drops them off, touring via a nightmarish city that is—we can’t support yet notice—a parable for our personal debauched, unjust world.

Wildly inventive and darkly ironic, Carnival is a powerful achievement.

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Captain Wilson was on a piece of the hurricane deck with about forty other people. By the time they neared the shore, only eight were left. Then, when the little group was in the breakers and tantalizingly close to land, one woman slipped off, and Captain Wilson dove after her. Both drowned. Now those who were still alive were in the clutches of a boiling surf. Many were dragged down by the powerful undertow. Others were battered by pieces of debris. John Jervis made it to dry land. His wife did not.

However, water was still the quickest and cheapest means of transportation for people and cargo. The roads connecting communities like Collingwood, Midland, and Parry Sound were of very poor quality. Rather than take a time-consuming, uncomfortable, and costly trip by land, most people preferred to go by ship. The Waubuno, a very familiar vessel to those Georgian Bay travelers, is central to one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of Georgian Bay. The Waubuno was a side-wheel steamer, built in Thorold, Ontario, in 1865.

I. Title. 3 C2010-903167-9 We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program. 1 For Kyle Howell of Cape Breton; my cousin and a true authority on the Edmund Fitzgerald. Author’s Note At the time of these events, imperial measurements were used in Canada as they still are in the United States today.

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