“This is one of the best books I've ever read, it's right up there along with "The Remains of the Day". It's graphic in terms of sex and violence, it is shocking and horrendous but it is powerful, it is deep, it grabs you with full force and makes you think, really think about life and death and...”see full review » see other reviews »
“This is one of the best books I've ever read, it's right up there along with "The Remains of the Day". It's graphic in terms of sex and violence, it is shocking and horrendous but it is powerful, it is deep, it grabs you with full force and makes you think, really think about life and death and love and significance. Superbly written, I finished and wanted to start reading it all over again.”Debs Erwin wrote this review Friday, May 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Horrifying story of how the world closed its eyes at the dawn of Rwandan genocide, personal relationships got under huge stress and HIV was temporarily just public enemy number 2. No heroes in this story.”joerie wrote this review Wednesday, February 27, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I received this book as a present many years ago but have only now found an opportunity to read it. Translated from the French, it is set during the horrific massacres in Rwanda in which over a million people were raped, mutilated and killed in a brief but brutal civil war. The book succeeds in painting a picture of the gruesome cruelty, reminding us how near we all can come to such barbarity. But rather than presenting a journalistic report, Courtemanche casts his work in the form of a novel, in which most of the characters are real people that he encountered in Rwanda. The main plot is a 'love story' between Valcourt, a Canadian journalist/film-maker (also Courtemanche's nationality and professions), and Gentille, a Hutu girl who looks like a Tutsi. The natural assumption is that Valcourt 'is' Courtemanche, fictionalized. But Valcourt is such a creep! He is portrayed as loving Gentille, but does nothing to protect her and their adopted child. Rather than using his status as a white man to rescue her, he reads surrealist poetry with her and then abandons her to her fate. He may be 'at peace with himself' at the end of the book, but this reader was left cringing.”Lachlan wrote this review Saturday, January 26, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Written by a journalist, this book begins with a circle of aide workers, expats, Rwandan upper class, hotel workers and prostitutes who hang out around the pool at the Mille-Collines hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. ALl around them are the stirrings of the 1994 Hutu led genocide that took place there against the Tutsi people. A Canadian journalist, Bernard Valcourt (the author's alter-ego) falls in love with Gentille, a beautiful Hutu waitress and they adopt a daughter, orphaned when friends are murdered. In spite of people being hacked up, raped and slaughtered all around them, Valcourt and Gentille remain in Rwanda until finally separated at a roadblock. Aids, corruption, hideous massacres are sprinkled into every chapter. Everyone is screwing everyone, and I began to think that the author had some kind of bizarre sex addiction. Everyone has aids. I grew weary of the endless rapes so brutally described - Valcourt and Gentille could have fled, but the didn't. I found this almost hard to believe given what they witnessed every day. I didn't mind the straight forward journalistic style, but grew tired of all the sex talk and bloody descriptions that distracted from the real story of love between these two people. ”Brenda Sorrels wrote this review Tuesday, May 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“disturbing but important to read”Karen M wrote this review Monday, January 23, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A book about the Rwanda genocide which I found disturbing enough while I was reading it, but even more so after I had a chance to get past the shocking scenes and think about it. I was left with a feeling that I'd just participated in something exploitative, and I felt disgusted with the novel.”JMW wrote this review Sunday, February 13, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It's not the kind of book you say you enjoyed, for the prose or the subject matter. But you do say you've had your eyes opened.
Actually, I found it incredibly slow going, and its taken me nearly 6 months to read it, but it gathered its awful, relentless and inevitable momentum and in the last third of the book I could barely put it down. I can't bring myself to compare it to anything else I've read, but am grateful I read it.
The Sunday Times review on the back cover of my edition, surprisingly enough for a purported review, says it all really. But you're going to have to find your own copy and read it; I'm not going to repeat it here.
No matter how uncomfortable or difficult readers find it; how helpless, outraged, righteous or devastated it might make you feel, understanding events of the scale of those described - be it the genocide or the tragedy of AIDS - on a personal as well as the political level should be compulsory reading, it really should.
The anger and the anguish that prompted this novel cuts through clearly and I challenge any reader to not be affected by this book.
Possibly lost a star in my review due to the fact its a translation and occasionally the text was overly dense or jarring, not due to the subject matter but the words themselves.
I've just changed my review to five stars - it is such a powerful book and has stayed with me as if I've just closed the cover since I finished reading it a few weeks ago.
I doubt I will ever listen to the 'War is Over' again without remembering this book and its beautifully expressed, harrowing final chapters. And that's not such a bad thing, really. ”
“A powerful and often very difficult read. Not for the faint of heart.”Lively Albatross wrote this review Sunday, September 12, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Written from a distant point of view, Courtemanche who calls himself 'Valcourt' in the novel simply tells the story of how the genocide in Rwanda started, and how suddenly all Tutsis became subject to persecution, abuse and killings of the worst kind. The loss of all humanity strikes one, particularly when reading how the most cherished person in Valcourt's life, his Tutsi wife, is being treated worse than a cockroach.
A sickening, depressing, yet absolutely worthwhile novel about the abysses in humans we tend to deny.”