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4.2 (2018)

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    Available in PDF Format | Cockroaches.pdf | English
    Scholastique Mukasonga(Author) Jordan Stump(Author)

An unforgettable memoir centred on the Tutsi genocide of 1994 in Hutu-controlled Rwanda.

Imagine being born into a world where everything about you - the shape of your nose, the look of your hair, the place of your birth - designates you as an undesirable, an inferior, a menace, no better than a cockroach, something to be driven away and ultimately exterminated. Imagine being thousands of miles away while your family and friends are brutally and methodically slaughtered. Imagine being entrusted by your parents with the mission of leaving everything you know and finding some way to survive, in the name of your family and your people.

Scholastique Mukasonga's COCKROACHES is the story of growing up a Tutsi in Hutu-dominated Rwanda - the story of a happy child, a loving family, all wiped out in the genocide of 1994. A vivid, bittersweet depiction of family life and bond in a time of immense hardship, it is also a story of incredible endurance, and of the duty to remember loss and those lost while somehow carrying on. Sweet, funny, wrenching, and deeply moving, COCKROACHES is a window onto an unforgettable world of love, grief and horror.

"Beautifully written in the graceful, lilting prose that dominated Our Lady of the Nile... However, this memoir recalling the destruction of her Tutsi family is harrowing reading, made all the more shocking by the way life later went on, as if the genocide had never happened. Mukasonga's life remains dominated by her ghosts." -- Eileen Battersby's Favourite Fiction and Non-Fiction of 2016, Irish Times

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Review Text

  • By William Jordan on 15 November 2016

    A memoir of growing up as a Tutsi in Rwanda when Tutsi were seen as cockroaches by the Hutu, and periodically attacked and constantly victimised before the genocide of 1994. This book covers the author's life as a child (when the family escapes one attack on Tutsi and is exiled to a part of the country not seen as properly part of Rwanda by the Tutsi) and as a young girl (victimised at school but surviving as the family sees education as the best protection for its members), then being spirited across the border to Burundi, together with a brother. We do not follow her life as a social worker outside Rwanda but do experience two very brief returns to Rwanda to visit her family (not really safe for them even once she has become a French citizen following her marriage) then takes us through the genocide in which the author's extended family including her parents and siblings are almost all killed, often following terrible torture and a return visit in 2004, which is probably the prompt for the writing of the memoir.This is a very touching narrative. But potential readers should bear in mind that the subjects covered are at the extreme of human suffering.

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