Running the Rift – A Book Set in Rwanda

With the 2012 Olympic Games invading every aspect of our lives at the moment (especially here in London!), this seems the perfect time to introduce a new novel which has landed on my doorstep.Books set in Rwanda - Running The Rift by Naomi Benaron

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron is the heart-breaking account of a young man in Rwanda in the 1980s and 90s, who dreams of becoming his country’s first Olympic running champion.

For more than a decade, we follow Tutsi Jean Patrick Nkuba as he devotes himself to his goal; we share his wins and losses on the track, we join him on his pre-dawn training runs and we wish him luck as he pursues the other love of his life, the delightfully feisty Bea.

But all the while we know what’s coming…

An estimated 800,000 Rwandans died in just 100 days during the country’s 1994 genocide. Ethnic tension between Rwanda’s two main ethnic groups – Hutu and Tutsi – had been brewing for years. And with previous episodes of mass violence on both sides and a civil war between Rwanda’s Hutu-led government and the Tutsi rebels, the assassination of president Juvénal Habyarimana was the final straw. It unleashed government-sponsored violence which saw the killing of not only Tutsi men, women and children, but those Hutus who opposed the persecution of their fellow Rwandans. Whipped into a frenzy by a Hutu radio station, civilians were encouraged to join the military and militia in wiping out the Tutsi “cockroaches” – many of whom had taken shelter in schools and churches. Around two million Hutus took part in the killing of 20 percent of the country’s population.

Part of the strength of this novel is that despite the historical backdrop it remains Jean Patrick’s story. We are well aware of the growing tension, and while it invades Jean Patrick’s life on many levels, he is somewhat protected by his talent as he continues his gruelling training schedule and plots to win Bea’s affections. How could he possibly know what was to come? After all, the president himself sees this future champion as a symbol of the country’s unity.  The eventual outcome is unimaginable.

While this is a story of conflict and violence, it is also a love story, a coming-of-age story and a story of hope and forgiveness. The characters are engaging and the description of the Rwandan countryside is vivid. Not only will you learn something of Rwanda’s history, you’ll learn a great deal about the experiences of top level athletes as they desperately try to reach their goals.

And now, having put down the book to turn my attention to the television and the plethora of talent on the track in London, there’s a little part of me which so wishes I could see Jean Patrick running there…

Suzi

Book Source: This novel was kindly provided for review purposes by the publishers.

Disclosure Policy If you click on the links in the posts to buy books, then I will receive a tiny commission for referring you. This does not affect the price you pay for the books, and I am grateful for your support. Every little bit helps! Thank you. (Packabook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com)


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3 Comments • Posted in Books set in Rwanda

Comments

  1. Naomi Benaron

    We DID see Jean Patrick run in the Olympics! Did you watch David Rudisha blow away the field in the 800m?

    [Reply]

  2. Jackie

    wow that sounds like a really good book. You always pick books I want to run out and grab though. 🙂

    [Reply]

    packabook Reply:

    Ah – that’s the idea Jackie. I wear you down with good book suggestions until eventually you give in…

    [Reply]

    • packabook

      Ah – that’s the idea Jackie. I wear you down with good book suggestions until eventually you give in…

      [Reply]

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Please note - if you read our reviews and click on our links to buy books, we will receive a tiny commission for referring you. This does not affect the price you pay for the books, and we thank you for your support! Packabook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com