The Favourite Game

Publisher: Emblem Editions
In this unforgettable novel, Leonard Cohen boldly etches the youth and early manhood of Lawrence Breavman, only son of an old Jewish family in Montreal. Life for Breavman is made up of dazzling colour – a series of motion pictures fed through a high-speed projector: the half-understood death of his father; the adult games of love and war, with their infinite capacity for fantasy and cruelty; his secret experiments with hypnotism; the night-long adventures with Krantz, his beloved comrade and confidant. Later, achieving literary fame as a college student, Breavman does penance through manual labour, but ultimately flees to New York. And although he has loved the bodies of many women, it is only when he meets Shell, whom he awakens to her own beauty, that he discovers the totality of love and its demands, and comes to terms with the sacrifices he must make.


“Is there any Canadian novel as compelling and as good at capturing youthful anxieties as J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye? Absolutely.…Leonard Cohen’s first novel, The Favourite Game.…One of the 10 best Canadian novels of the 20th century.…”
Globe and Mail (January 2000)

The Favourite Game is a morally brave book, intimate and unflinching.…Leonard Cohen sustains the highest level of poetic craftsmanship throughout.”
— Paul Quarrington

“He is a writer of terrific energy and colour, a Rabelaisian comic and a visualiser of some memorable scenes.”
The Observer (U.K.)

“It is the kind of book that becomes a law unto itself, simply because there is nothing with which to compare it.”
Calgary Albertan