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“An unusually courageous book about the traumatization of the Rwandan genocide, which undertakes to explore the inner worlds of the victims and the perpetrators. With cool pathos, an attempt is made at balanced empathy for the nameless horror, which acknowledges and reflects its own failure. The story centres on a survivor who found refuge in French exile and who returns to Rwanda to search for explanations and narrative models for the bloodlust that turned her countrymen into bestial murderers in 1994. A second narrative delves into the inner life of the counter-figure: the mass murderer Niko. The offset stories told from the perspective of the victim and the perpetrator make the novel by the Rwandan author an unprecedented open-ended experiment in which telling cannot heal and blame cannot be removed.” (The jury on the shortlist nomination 2015)
Isaro was adopted from Rwanda as an orphan. She grows up in France, where she now leads the carefree life of a student. Becoming increasingly politically aware, she begins to deal with the events in her original homeland. Niko, dumb from birth, seems rather simpleminded. During the war, the boy fled to a fabled island, hid from the people and lived with a group of apes. Isaro, wanting to understand what happened in 1994, travels to Rwanda to collect reports from eyewitnesses. Niko, however, wants to forget. But both have to face their memories and the question of how to face and how to deal with the past.
Gilbert Gatore was born in Rwanda in 1981 and lives in Paris, where he studied at the Sciences Po and Haute École du Commerce (HEC). He received the Prix Universitaire de la Nouvelle and the Prix Ouest-France Étonnant Voyageurs for his debut novel Le Passé devant soi. He is a refugee from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda during which he wrote a journal that was lost during his escape.
Katja Meintel, born in 1975, majored in Romance studies, ethnology and German at the universities in Freiburg i.Br. and Lyon. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on francophone crime novels from Sub-Saharan Africa. She is presently working as a translator, editor and lecturer in the Basel region. She has translated from the French and English, including works by Abdourahman Waberi, Hubert Haddad, Bessa Myftiu and In Koli Jean Bofane. She received the 2006 Stefan-George-Preis for the translation project In den Vereinigten Staaten von Afrika.
In Koli Jean Bofane: Sinusbögen überm Kongo; Horlemann Verlag 2013 (Mathématiques congolaises; Actes Sud, Paris 2008)
Patrick Pécherot: Boulevard der Irren; Nautilus Verlag 2011 (Boulevard des Branques; Gallimard, Paris 2005)
Abdourahman A. Waberi: Tor der Tränen; Nautilus Verlag 2011 (Passage des larmes; JC Lattès, Paris 2009)
Brigitte Kuthy Salvi: Lichtspuren; Limmat Verlag 2010 (Double lumière; Éditions de l’Aire, Vevey (Schweiz) 2009)
Bessa Myftiu: An verschwundenen Orten; Limmat Verlag 2010 (Confessions des lieux disparus; Éditions de l’Aube, La Tour-d’Aigues 2007)
Im Auge des Gesetzes. Kriminalromane aus dem frankophonen Afrika südlich der Sahara- Gattungskonventionen und Gewaltlegitimation; Shaker Verlag 2008