Friday, 23 July 2010

Andrew Brown's "Inyenzi" - recommended reading for Rwanda

A few weeks ago during the pre-world cup South Africa hype I read an interesting interview with Andrew Brown, a young author from Cape Town. His first novel "Inyenzi" written in 2000 about love and genocide in Rwanda was a bestseller in South Africa, but never really made it onto the international stage. With a trip scheduled to Kigali I was curious to learn more about my destination and ordered the book in the US.

It's the story of Melchior, a Hutu priest whose devout view of the world falters when he sees Selena, a beautiful young Tutsi, in the seminary grounds. Theirs is a love that is twice forbidden - by the Catholic church and the ethnic animosity between Hutus and Tutsis. Ethnic hatred is on the verge of tearing Rwanda apart. In the eyes of the Hutu extremists, such as Melchior's childhood friend Victor, Selena is nothing but a cockroach - an inyenzi - that must be crushed.

In the chilling events leading up to the killing spree, the fates of the three characters become increasingly intertwined. Every chapter ends with official documents, newspaper articles and press releases from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the case against Victor Busisiwa Muyigenzi, the former head of the communal police for Rweru, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. The cold and blunt court records documenting the tragedy of Rwanda's genocide are a stark backdrop to what is a beautiful love story.

And while this story could have fallen victim to a cliched plot of a B-grade Hollywood romance, Andrew Brown captures with great sensitivity and compassion the innocence of first love, the beauty of Rwanda and the horror of the genocide. The language is moving; gripping the reader page by page and, is disturbingly powerful.

Social Book Club

If this got you curious, leave me a message and I'll put the book in the post to you - but only on condition that you forward it to the next person interested.


Barbara 17 August 2010 at 21:00  

Put the book in post today - it's going to Anna in Switzerland.

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