Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali ~ by Gil Courtemanche

Twenty years ago, 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan genocide.  The killing began 20 years ago today.  If you are willing to "experience" the event through a book, I recommend A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali ~ by Gil Courtemanche, published in 2000.  I read it shortly after it was published, long before I had a book blog.  Here's a summary.
This is a moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.  All manner of Kigali residents pass their time by the pool of the Mille-Collines hotel:  aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates, UN peacekeepers, prostitutes.  Keeping a watchful eye is Bernard Valcourt, a jaded foreign journalist, but his closest attention is devoted to Gentille, a hotel waitress with the slender, elegant build of a Tutsi.  As they slip into an intense, improbable affair, the delicately balanced world around them – already devastated by AIDS – erupts in a Hutu-led genocide against the Tutsi people.  Valcourt’s efforts to spirit Gentille to safety end in their separation.  It will be months before he learns of his lover’s shocking fate.
Today, Rwanda is mourning the dead.  Click to enlarge the chart, to see what was happening during the hundred days of the genocide in 1994.  In the early 2000s, I met one of the men who fled Rwanda and was living in Chattanooga.  I met him through his wife, and today I should check to see if she's still working a couple of miles from where I live.

Here's David Batzofin's travel blog, which includes photos of the genocide memorial.  I was most moved by one little girl's memorial:
Fillette UWASE
Age:  2
Favorite toy:  doll
Best friend:  Her dad
Behaviour:  A good girl
Cause of death:  Smashed against a wall


Helen's Book Blog said...

Definitely adding this one to my TBR list. Thank you

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Your review of Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron (2012) also looks good: