Born in Rwanda, Scholastique Mukasonga moved to France in 1992, two years before the genocide in her home country. Her lavishly-praised debut novel, Notre-Dame du Nil, uses the context of an all-girls lycée near the source of the Nile to portray preconceptions and attitudes in 1970s Rwanda.
Parents send their daughters to the school hoping they will be moulded into respectable citizens and to escape the dangers of the outside world. Yet the lycée itself is a microcosm of the country’s own mounting racial tensions and violence; behind its closed doors unfolds friendship, curiosity, fear, deceit, prejudice, and persecution.
Notre-Dame du Nil was awarded the 2012 Prix Renaudot, the 2012 Prix Ahmadou Kourouma, the 2013 Prix Océans and in 2014 was named a Best Book by Publisher’s Weekly.
‘[Mukasonga] helps readers without experience of the setting become immersed at once, feeling out the tribal tensions without being overburdened with exposition. This is a moving, nuanced portrait of fear and survival.’ Publishers Weekly
‘D'une écriture âpre et tendue, Notre-Dame du Nil dépeint une société qui chemine inexorablement vers l'horreur .... Poignant et implacable.’ Le Monde
You may read the book in your language of choice. Discussions are in both French and English. Registrations open Saturday 12 October.
Photo Credit: Scholastique Mukasonga