Shortlisted for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle/Gregg Barrios Prize for Translated Literature.
A new masterwork of satire, lore, and living memory from the leading voice of French-Rwandan literature.
In four beautifully woven parts, Mukasonga spins a marvellous recounting of the clash between ancient Rwandan beliefs and the missionaries determined to replace them with European Christianity.
When a rogue priest is defrocked for fusing the gospels with the martyrdom of Kibogo, a fierce clash of cults ensues. Swirling with the heady smell of wet earth and flashes of acerbic humour, Mukasonga brings to life the vital mythologies that imbue the Rwandan spirit. In doing so, she gives us a tale of disarming simplicity and profound universal truth.
Kibogo’s story is reserved for the evening’s end, when women sit around a fire drinking honeyed brew, when just a few are able to stave off sleep. With heads nodding, drifting into the mist of a dream, one faithful storyteller will weave the old legends of the hillside, stories which church missionaries have done everything in their power to expunge.
‘Mukasonga breathes upon a vanished world and brings it to life in all its sparkling multifariousness.’ J.M. Coetzee
‘Mukasonga is a master of subtle shifts in register – a skill inherited, perhaps, from the Rwandan traditions of intricate courtesy and assiduous privacy that Stefania maintained. She turns everything over restlessly: In her prose, poignant reminiscences sharpen into bitter ironies, or laments reveal flashes of comedy, determination, defiance.’ The New York Times