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The Past Ahead (Global African Voices)by Gilbert Gatore
Synopses & Reviews
The Past Ahead is the story of the destinies of two people after their experiences of the genocide in Rwanda. Isaro is orphaned, exiled, and now returned to her native country. Niko is a character in a novel that Isaro writes to help her understand her country's recent horrific past. Isaro's quest to recover the memory of the life she has lost is haunted by her nightmare imaginings, whose horror is given expression through Niko, a mute social outcast. When an army intent on massacre reaches his village, the once gentle young man is forced to become a killer. After the fighting ends, Niko retreats to a cave that he shares with a family of gorillas to try to escape the burden of his guilt. In his solitude, he is plagued with painful memories that will not leave him. As Isaro writes Niko's story, she succumbs to the sadness of death, violence, and the dreadful reminders of her terrible past. Stunning and powerfully written, Gatore's novel lays bare the unfathomable human cost of this international tragedy.
"Rawandan Gatore, in his debut, attempts to come to terms with genocide in his homeland by focusing on two characters, each coping with a buried past. One morning, Isaro, a student living in France, hears a radio report describing a massacre in her native country. Sickened by her comfortable European existence and her adoptive parents' lifelong efforts to shield her from her background, Isaro resolves to return to her birthplace and record the stories of both the survivors and the perpetrators of the violence. But when she arrives, she finds that the grant money she had secured for her project has been withheld due to disagreement amongst committee members. Throughout his novel, Gatore weaves a story Isaro is writing about Niko, a mute outcast who's living on a deserted island with a troop of monkeys as he tries to reckon with his involvement in the genocide. Gatore's prose is lucid and introspective, but the cumbersome device of using Niko as a stand-in for Isaro, and Isaro as a stand-in for Gatore, undermines the novel's poignancy. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Gilbert Gatore was born in Rwanda in 1981. During the civil war, he kept a diary that was later lost during his escape. He began writing fiction in an attempt to recreate the impressions recorded in his diary.
Marjolijn de Jager is a translator who specializes in Francophone African literature. She received the Distinguished Member Award from the African Literature Association in 2011.
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