26 February 2007

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali

There is a weight that the reader must carry with them through the 260 pages of Courtemanche's story and that is the knowledge of how this story will end. Yes, there is graphic violence, sex, and detailed descriptions of the physical manifestations of AIDS. The author also paints some disturbing insights of those suffering under extreme oppression, discrimination, and poverty and the general ambivalence of those who have been appointed (or anointed) to save them.

As in real life (and this story, while considered fiction, is really non-fiction) a few characters are truly evil, a few truly good, but most are somewhere in between - struggling with their day-to-day decisions in the midst of a horrifying and chaotic environment. Many readers in the US may become frustrated or even angry with the seemingly foolish decisions that Canadian journalist Valcourt and his Rwandan wife, Gentille make. However, it would be wise to remember that many of us in the west have never had to experience such extreme conditions in our home communities. Would you so quickly give up your history, possessions, and family in the face of injustice? Or would you stay with the hope that truth and justice ultimately prevails? That dilemma is what creates the underlying tension in Courtemanche's story and all readers could benefit from the thoughts and emotions it provokes.

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