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A Sunday at the Pool in Kigaliby Gil Courtemanche
Synopses & Reviews
The swimming pool of the Mille-Collines hotel is a magnet for a discrete group of Kigali residents: aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates and prostitutes. Among these patrons is the hotel waitress Gentille, a beautiful Hutu often mistaken for a Tutsi, who has long been admired by Bernard Valcourt, a foreign journalist. As the two slide into a love affair, civil unrest in Rwanda makes insidious progress, while the people around the pool take on the menacing guises of war.
This landmark novel — penned by a journalist who spent several years in Africa — confronts the nightmare that ravaged Rwanda in April 1994, when the Hutu-led government orchestrated genocide against the Tutsi people. With profound compassion and consummate control, Courtemanche navigates a world about to be wrested apart, where the faces of the aggressors could easily be those of our neighbours, our friends, our families. A solemn denunciation of poverty, ignorance, global apathy and media blindness, this stirring hymn to humanity asks at its heart, like all great literature, the only question that matters: How are we to live our lives, and how to die?
"Courtemanche's novel conveys the pressure of lived experience very powerfully; yet at the same time experience is clearly mediated by a sophisticated literary imagination. His time in Rwanda, where he worked as a journalist, may have produced the first great novel of the catastrophe that befell that country, but its literary qualities are what count, not their context." Giles Foden, Guardian Review
"This is where Courtemanche is most powerful: he's not afraid to question morality, nor to reveal the human condition in all its heinous inhumanity. The story is intense and gut-wrenching and, at his best, Courtemanche remains detached enough from the catastrophes and horrors to be both poetic and disquieting. Be prepared - this is not a book for the weak-stomached." Sarah Emily Miano, The Observer
"Courtemanche has written a novel that contains the kind of social criticism that still, almost 10 years after the terrible events, is sharp and pertinent....The journalist in him has, thankfully, emptied himself, heart and all, into a love story full of real people that demand to be remembered." Quill & Quire
"This novel is not only powerful and beautifully written. Corrosive, denunciatory, Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali also evokes the powerlessness and the complicity that permitted the [Rwandan] massacre to take place." Le Devoir
"A voice that evokes humanity in all its depth and breadth, where executioner and victim are brother and sister, where death is a daily occurrence. A voice I implore you to listen to." Le Journal de Montreal
"A strong, assured voice...A novel stuck on reality that nevertheless transcends it. You will recognize places and characters. You will recognize the mugginess of the climate. But Courtemanche?s fiction transmits the depth of the real better than any objective documentation." Relations
"Those who read this novel — and I hope they will be numerous — are in for some astonishing pages on the subject of love and death." David Homel, Books in Canada
"A captivating first novel...Gil Courtemanche?s fine writing and refined style... weave together a love story full of beauty and tenderness."Voir
"A first novel whose story hits hard, very hard." Le Droit
"A tremendous novel." René Homier-Roy, Radio Canada/C?est bien meilleur le matin
"A few pages are enough for you to be swept away into the terrifying madness of a country." Le Nouvel Observateur
"When your first novel is compared to the works of Albert Camus, André Malrauz and Graham Greene, it?s a pretty good start.... Courtemanche?s novel is guided by a strong moral presence: that of the author. He has an astringent personality, and he puts it to good use in this book..." The Gazette
"Journalist Courtemanche follows in Graham Greene?s footsteps to create popular work that distinguishes itself on the literary scene." David Homel, Enycyclopedia Brittanica
"A fresco with humanist accents which could easily find a place next to the works of Albert Camus and Graham Greene." La Presse
"A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a blunt, vividly visual account of a human cataclysm that has left a scar on the psyche of us all. At the same time it is a testament to love, its durabilility and frailty in the face of annihilation. Do not expect it to leave you untouched." Jonathan Kaplan, author of The Dressing Station
This landmark novel—penned by a journalist who spent several years in Africa—confronts the nightmare that ravaged Rwanda in April 1994, when the Hutu-led government orchestrated genocide against the Tutsi people.
"The novel of the year" is how La Presse billed this extraordinary book, winner of the Prix des Libraires du Quebec in 2000. Now Knopf Canada brings this bestseller — a story of love and humanity at its limits — to English-language readers in a masterful translation by Patricia Claxton, twice winner of the Governor General?s Award.
About the Author
Gil Courtemanche is a journalist in international and third-world politics, and an author of several non-fiction works. Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali spent more than a year on Quebec bestseller lists. Movie production is underway with Lyla Films.
Patricia Claxton is one of Canada?s foremost translators, who has worked with Gabrielle Roy, Nicole Brossard and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, among others.
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