We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (Bestselling Backlist) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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- Length: 369 pages
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity.
This remarkable debut book from Philip Gourevitch chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Gourevitch his title.
With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.
Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.
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The "stories" in this book's subtitle are both the author's, as he repeatedly visits this tiny country in an attempt to make sense of what has happened, and those of the people he interviews. These include a Tutsi doctor who has seen much of her family killed over decades of Tutsi oppression, a Schindleresque hotel manager who hid hundreds of refugees from certain death, and a Rwandan bishop who has been accused of supporting the slaughter of Tutsi schoolchildren, and can only answer these charges by saying, "What could I do?" Gourevitch, a staff writer for the New Yorker, describes Rwanda's history with remarkable clarity and documents the experience of tragedy with a sober grace. The reader will ask along with the author: Why does this happen? And why don't we bother to stop it? --Maria Dolan--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From the Publisher
"[It is the] sobering voice of witness that Gourevitch has vividly captured in his work." --Wole Soyinka, The New York Times Book Review
"I know of few books, fiction or non-fiction, as compelling as Philip Gourevitch's account of the Rwandan genocide....As a journalist [Gourevitch] has raised the bar on us all." --Sebastian Junger
"The most important book I have read in many years...Gourevitch's book poses the preeminent question of our time: What--if anything--does it mean to be a human being at the end of the 20th century?...He examines [this question] with humility, anger, grief and a remarkable level of both political and moral intelligence." --Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times
"Thoughtful, beautifully written, and important...we want to pass it along to our friends, and to insist that they read it because the information it contains seems so profoundly essential." --Francine Prose, Elle--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B000OI0FI0
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (September 4, 1999)
- Publication date : September 4, 1999
- Language : English
- File size : 1000 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 369 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #120,148 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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I was heartened to read the positive reviews of this book that were written in 2015, largely by young people who read it in school. This story isn't history, it's background and it is as relevant today as it was the day it was published. And, unfortunately, it's still happening all over the world.
Gourevitch weaves a work of nonfiction in this title that one is almost tempted to view as fiction. Such is the magnitude of horrors presented. Sadly, each and every piece of information from this Rwandan genocide is documented. Gourevitch explores in gory details the events of 1994 as well as the precursor building up of hostilities during and subsequent to Belgian colonial rule. What you will learn over the course of this book will chill you; each detail is more gruesome than the last. Gourevitch presents this in a clear, concise manner, providing optimal impact.
What really struck me, however, about this work was that it is NOT wholly a scholarly, detached study of the crime. It is the story of the individuals who lived through the event, as well as of those who did not. Most striking, to me, was a passage in the opening pages of the book. Gourevitch, newly landed in Rwanda, is walking with an officer of the Rwandan army. This officer accidentally steps on a skull poking through the ground. Gourevitch is disgusted, ready to denounce the man, until he feels a crunch beneath his feet. He too has trodden upon a skull, as the hillside is littered with remains.
The Hutu/Tutsi relationship was never particularly warlike. It was only upon the establishment of colonial rule, the subjugation of the majority Hutu, and the subsequent Belgian shift to support these Hutu, that created the tensions that led to the genocide in the power vacuum of post-independence. Rwanda was a tinderbox at this point, as Hutu extremists took to the airwaves, calling upon all to turn upon their Tutsi neighbors with, often, machetes. Once these extremists shot down the president's aircraft, their path was clear, as they knew help for victims would not emanate from Romeo Dallaire's already besieged UN forces (despite his best efforts) or the United States (conflict-wary following Somalia). Murder, thus, was easy in many respects.
Gourevitch tells the tale of cold-blood murder, of the failure of the international community to live up to the Genocide Convention and its own humanity, but, most importantly, of the men and women who struggled for their lives in 1994. The cry of "never again" following the Holocaust may have been a false promise, but, through works such as these, we can all attempt to promise, individually, "never again," one individual at a time.
Top reviews from other countries
I must say that I found this book more affecting than Keane's, but it may well be that I read this first and it had more impact on me. Gourevitch' skill as a writer is mesmerising - I often felt I was there, whether hiding in a church, or talking to a "pygmy" in a bar, or sitting on some survivor's veranda - everything is immediate, compelling, and vivid.
The final situation, with the refugee camps and the new government, was fascinating, and an insight into a moral minefield in the aftermath of Rwanda's murderous disaster. This book haunted me for a long time after I had finished it.