Synopses & Reviews
Imagine that a man who was once friendly suddenly spewed hatred. That a girl who flirted with you in the lunchroom refused to look at you. That your coach secretly trained soldiers who would hunt down your family. Jean Patrick Nkuba is a gifted Tutsi boy who dreams of becoming Rwandas first Olympic medal contender in track. When the killing begins, he is forced to flee, leaving behind the woman, the family, and the country he loves. Finding them again is the race of his life.
Spanning ten years during which a small nation was undone by ethnic tension and Africas worst genocide in modern times, this novel explores the causes and effects of Rwandas great tragedy from Nkubas point of view. His struggles teach us that the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit can keep us going and ultimately lead to triumph.
"Set during the 1980s and '90s, Benaron's novel follows Jean Patrick Nkuba, an aspiring Olympic runner from Rwanda, as he struggles with the burdens of life in his home country and the growing conflict between Tutsi and Hutu people, which escalates and eventually leads to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Narrator Marcel Davis produces a passable Rwandan accent; it is lilting and precise, but cuts in and out during dialogue. Davis narrates the rest of the book in an American accent. And while his reading is clear and well paced, this disparity only adds to the awkwardness of his attempt to capture the sound and rhythm of Rwandan speech and in the end undermines his performance. An Algonquin hardcover." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Truly fearless writing . . . culturally rich and completely engrossing.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, founder of the Bellwether Prize, author of The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
"An auspicious debut . . . Having worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda, Benaron clearly acquired a very lucid sense of her characters' lives and of the horrors they endured. Her story tells, with compelling clarity, of Rwandan Tutsi youth, Jean Patrick Nkuba--who dreams of becoming Rwanda's first Olympic medalist. It's a dream he must postpone for more than a decade as the internecine savagery, Hutu vs. Tutsi, slaughters millions and derails the lives of countless others. While it would be counterintuitive to pronounce this a winning, feel-good story, there is something to be said for hope restored. And Naomi Benaron's characters say it well." --The Daily Beast Publishers Weekly
“First novelist Benaron, who has actively worked with refugee groups, won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for this unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival. In addition, she compellingly details the growth and rigorous training of a young athlete. VERDICT Readers who do not shy away from depictions of violence will find this tale of social justice a memorable read, and those interested in coming-of-age stories set in wartime will want it as well. Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal [starred review] Christian Science Monitor
“The politics will be familiar to those who have followed Africas crises (or seen Hotel Rwanda), but where Benaron shines is in her tender descriptions of Rwandans natural beauty and in her creation of Jean Patrick, a hero whose noble innocence and genuine human warmth are impossible not to love.”
—Kirkus Reviews [starred review] O, The Oprah magazine
“Benaron accomplishes the improbable feat of wringing genuine loveliness from unspeakable horror . . . It is a testament to Benarons skill that a novel about genocide . . . conveys so profoundly the joys of family, friendship, and community.”
—Publishers Weekly [starred review] Chicago Tribune
“A powerful coming-of-age story that highlights the best and the worst of human nature.”
—Christian Science Monitor Wall Street Journal
“A novel full of unspeakable strife but also joy, humor, and love . . . thanks to a writer who knows when to keep a steady pace and when to explode into an all-out sprint.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine AudioFile
“Benaron depicts the rugged beauty of Rwanda and the horror of genocide vividly in these pages. She writes with an earnest clarity bringing the boy to manhood and imparting to readers a culturally rich and unflinching story of resilience and resistance.”
“It is exceptionally difficult to fictionalize a relatively recent mass murder without either cheapening the tragedy or becoming bogged down in grim reportage—but Ms. Benaron does a smart, sober job of it. . . . Running the Rift is well-paced but always makes time to demonstrate the apparatus of genocide.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Fictional differences between one person and another can justify violence too horrible to believe. Here one melodious voice can speak for us all.”
Winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, this powerful debut novel describes the life of a young Tutsi boy who comes of age during the Rwandan genocide.
About the Author
Naomi Benaron earned an MFA from Antioch University and an MS in earth sciences from Scripps Institute of Oceanography. She teaches at Pima Community College and online through the Afghan Women's Writing Project. An advocate for African refugees in her community, she has worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda. She has won the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. She is also an Ironman triathlete.