A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
“Look, for people who’re going to be dead soon, we’re not doing too badly.” “The novel of the year” is what La Presse called this extraordinary book, a love story that takes place in the days leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A first work of fiction by one of French Canada’s most admired journalists, Gil Courtemanche, it was first published in Quebec in 2000, spent more than a year on bestseller lists and won the Prix des Libraires, the booksellers’ award for outstanding book of the year. Rights were sold to publishers in over twenty countries in Europe and around the world. This humanist story of an unlikely love affair set against a holocaust has become an internationally acclaimed phenomenon, worthy of comparison with the work of Graham Greene and Albert Camus. The swimming pool of the Mille-Collines hotel, Kigali, in the early 1990s, draws a regular crowd of assorted aid workers, strutting Rwandan officials, Belgian businessmen, French paratroops and Canadian expats. Among them is Bernard Valcourt, a documentary filmmaker from Quebec, on a mission to set up a television station in the capital. Valcourt, who for two decades has earned his living from wars and famines, lingers around the pool drinking warm beer and watching football; but most of all, watching Gentille, a beautiful young waitress, who is a Hutu but often mistaken for a Tutsi because of her family’s strange history. The trouble coming stems from a long conflict, instigated in colonial times by Whites who treated Tutsis as superior to Hutus. The Hutu government is now openly encouraging violence against Tutsis. The physical traits of the Tutsis make them easy prey, but they are not the only ones in danger. Too many people are already dying in Rwanda daily: of AIDS, of malaria, and increasingly at roadblocks at the hands of drunken militia, or pulled from their homes. The hotel staff and prostitutes sense trouble and death drawing closer as they continue providing drinks and meals and sex. The story of this developing catastrophe is revealed through the lives of a handful of Rwandans who befriend Valcourt. They confide in him because he listens, and because his interviews offer them a chance to try to change the way things are by telling the world. Their candour and warmth begin to make his heart glow. He meets people like Méthode, who knows a bloodbath is brewing and would rather die of AIDS in the comfort of a hotel room than by a machete. Threatened, frightened, sick, they don’t want to talk and act like they’re dying. Poor as they are, they want to have some moments of pleasure and celebrate life. As Kigali life continues in its resourcefulness and persistence, Valcourt is falling in love with Rwanda, and with Gentille, who loves him because he sees her as no-one has seen her before. Even as the worst horrors begin, as friends are raped and murdered, he starts to feel a strange peace in this land of a thousand hills, though he repudiates the outside world for its failure to intervene. Because Gentille is thought to be Tutsi, her life is in danger. Still, no-one can believe that the extremists will go too far, that brothers and sisters will kill brothers and sisters, and that 800,000 civilians will be massacred. A hard-hitting chronicle of an overlooked chapter of recent history, told with skill and compassion, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is also a celebration of living in the moment, of the integrity of friendship and the courage of everyday heroes. Harrowing, unsettling, challenging, but beautiful and moving, it is a book that cannot leave the reader untouched; as a Quill & Quire reviewer said, it is “full of real people that demand to be remembered.”
Baking Cakes in Kigali
Angel Tungazara runs a small business, baking cakes for the parties and celebrations of her neighbours. As her customers tell her their stories, Angel comes to realize how much each of them has to mourn as well as what they have to celebrate. And, finally, she comes to accept how much that is true of her too... This is a uniquely charming, gently moving, deliciously funny novel about life, love and cake. Ultimately, it shows how the human spirit - even when pushed to its limits - endures and unifies us all.
Shake Hands With The Devil
When Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, he thought he was heading off to Africa to help two warring parties achieve a peace both sides wanted. Instead, he and members of his small international force were caught up in a vortex of civil war and genocide. Dallaire left Rwanda a broken man; disillusioned, suicidal, and determined to tell his story. An award-winning international sensation, Shake Hands with the Devil is a landmark contribution to the literature of war: a remarkable tale of a soldier's courage and an unforgettable portrait of modern warfare. It is also a stinging indictment of the petty bureaucrats who refused to give Dallaire the men and the operational freedom he needed to stop the killing. 'I know there is a God,' Dallaire writes, 'because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.'
The bestselling epic novel of family, treachery, rivalry, religious fervour and the turbulent fate of a royal African dynasty It is 1797 and the African kingdom of Segu, born of blood and violence, is at the height of its power. Yet Dousika Traore, the king's most trusted advisor, feels nothing but dread. Change is coming. From the East, a new religion, Islam. From the West, the slave trade. These forces will tear his country, his village and the lives of his beloved sons apart, in Maryse Condé's glittering epic.
Penelope Wain believes that her lover, Neil Macrae, has been killed while serving overseas under her father. That he died apparently in disgrace does not alter her love for him, even though her father is insistent on his guilt. What neither Penelope or her father knows is that Neil is not dead, but has returned to Halifax to clear his name. Hugh MacLennan’s first novel is a compelling romance set against the horrors of wartime and the catastrophic Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917. From the Paperback edition.
Before Green Gables
Before she had arrived at Green Gables, Anne Shirley had a difficult early life. Orphaned as a baby, she was sent from one foster-home to the next, caring for other people's children even though she was but a child herself, and escaping from her dark reality through the power of her vivid imagination. Curious, inventive and outspoken, even at a young age, Anne battles to make a life for herself by searching out kindred spirits, finding solace in her books, and dreaming of the day she has a family of her own. Budge Wilson has developed the seeds of L. M. Montgomery's ideas into a fully realized, beautifully written story.
Three Day Road
The stories of an American Indian sniper caught up in the Great War and of his aunt, one of the last Cree Indians to live off the land, are intertwined in a mesmerising journey as they travel home over three days This beautiful, haunting novel begins as Niska is reunited with her nephew, Xavier, after he returns from the horrors of the First World War. As she slowly paddles her canoe on the 3-day journey to take him home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Canada, their respective stories emerge. Niska is the last Cree Indian woman living off the land in Canada. She recalls her memories of growing up among her kinsfolk, of trying to remain true to her ancestors and traditions in a rapidly changing world. Xavier joined the war reluctantly at the urging of his only friend, Elijah - a Cree boy raised in the reservation schools. Elijah and Xavier honed their hunting skills as snipers in the horrors of the trenches and the wastes of No-man's land. But as the war continues, they react in very different ways to the never-ending carnage around them. Niska realises that in the aftermath of war, Xavier's very soul is dying - but will the three day journey home be enough to help him find hope again?
The Viceroy Of Ouidah
In 1812, Francisco Manoel da Silva, escaping a life of poverty in Brazil, sailed to the African kingdom of Dahomey, determined to make his fortune in the slave trade. Armed with nothing but an iron will, he became a man of substance in Ouidah and the founder of a remarkable dynasty. His one remaining ambition is to return to Brazil in triumph, but his friendship with the mad, mercurial king of Dahomey is fraught with danger and threatens his dream.
Allah is Not Obliged
ALLAH IS NOT OBLIGED TO BE FAIR ABOUT ALL THE THINGS HE DOES HERE ON EARTH.These are the words of the boy soldier Birahima in the final masterpiece by one of Africa’s most celebrated writers, Ahmadou Kourouma. When ten-year-old Birahima's mother dies, he leaves his native village in the Ivory Coast, accompanied by the sorcerer and cook Yacouba, to search for his aunt Mahan. Crossing the border into Liberia, they are seized by rebels and forced into military service. Birahima is given a Kalashnikov, minimal rations of food, a small supply of dope and a tiny wage. Fighting in a chaotic civil war alongside many other boys, Birahima sees death, torture, dismemberment and madness but somehow manages to retain his own sanity. Raw and unforgettable, despairing yet filled with laughter, Allah Is Not Obliged reveals the ways in which children's innocence and youth are compromised by war. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Written in luminous prose, The Whirlpool is a haunting tale set in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the summer of 1889. This is the season of reckless river stunts, a time when the undertaker’s widow is busy with funerals, her days shadowed by her young son’s curious silence. Across the street in Kick’s Hotel, where Fleda and her husband, David McDougal, have temporary rooms, Fleda dreams of the place above the whirlpool where she first encountered the poet, a man who enters her life and, unwittingly, changes everything. As the summer progresses, the lives of these characters become entangled, and darker, more sinister currents gain momentum. The Whirlpool, Jane Urquhart’s first novel, received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France and marked the brilliant debut of a major voice in Canadian fiction. From the Trade Paperback edition.