This week’s link

IMG_8850_resizedWe’re staying in Rwanda this week following my recent review of Scholastique Mukasonga’s novel Our Lady of the Nile.

First up is an unsettling piece from the Literary Hub by Megha Majumdar arguing that post-genocide Rwanda is not quite the success story  of democratic modernisation it likes to project.

Half-Truth and Reconciliation After the Rwandan Genocide

Finishing on a lighter note, here is a dispatch from music producer Jan Brennan originally published in The Believer  on making field recordings of the Rwandan band  the Good Ones. 

Rwanda: Love Songs from the Ashes of a Genocide


“Our Lady of the Nile” by Scholastique Mukasonga


Close to the source of the Nile in the Rwandan district of Nyambinombe, is the fictitious Catholic boarding school Our Lady of the Nile established by Belgian nuns for the “advancement of women through education in the Christian faith” and the setting of Scholastique Mukasonga’s novel of the same name. Originally published in France in 2012 it is one of the four translated books on a shortlist of ten for the International Dublin Literary award – with a prize money of 100,000 Euros for a single work of fiction, one of the richest literary awards globally. Continue reading ““Our Lady of the Nile” by Scholastique Mukasonga”

Rebel Without A Cause – “Dirty Snow” by Georges Simenon

Dirty Snow CoverFrank Friedmaier, Simenon’s anti-hero in Dirty Snow, is a murderer, a pimp and a thug. He is self-absorbed, cold-hearted and cruel. There is, of course, no rule to say that a protagonist needs to be likable and there are many offensive characters in literature, yet most of them possess character traits which allow the reader to emphasize, or which at the very least hint at the possibility for redemption. It is the mark of Simenon’s genius that he is able to sustain the readers’ interest in a character with few, if any, redeeming features and to make such a repellent character utterly absorbing without turning him into a freak for the reader to simply gawk at.

Belgian-born Georges Simenon (1903 – 1989) wrote an extraordinary number of books and is possibly best known for his series of 75 detective novels featuring Commissaire Maigret who solves his crimes more by psychological intuition than detection. Penguin is currently publishing the entire series in new translations. Personally, I find the Maigret novels quite staid, suitable to be turned into the graded readers that we had to read while learning French in high school. Simenon himself considered writing the Maigret series a reprieve from his more serious psychological novels, the so-called “roman durs”, which number close to 200 and of which Dirty Snow is one the best. Continue reading “Rebel Without A Cause – “Dirty Snow” by Georges Simenon”

Link of the week

IMG_8850_resizedFollowing from last week’s review of “Voices from Chernobyl” by Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, today’s featured link is a 17-minute movie based on one of the testimonies contained in it.

“The Door” – a short film by Juanita Wilson

Shot on location in Kiew and also in Prypiat inside the exclusion zone around the reactor, “The Door” is a faithful and visually stunning adaptation of one of the stand-out monologues Alexievich recorded for her book.