Very raw, very explicit. Not only covers the build-up to the Rwandan genocide, but also the AIDS-epidemic. Even though they are two totally different books, there are some very clear similarities I noticed after reading Baking Cakes in Kigali prior to this one: The Rwandan men are depicted as sex driven beasts; it seems that’s all they can think about and they don’t give two shits if they happen to infect women with AIDS. Some of them do it deliberately, because “everyone is going to die anyways”, either from a machete, malaria or AIDS. I refuse to believe that the first part of this depiction applies to the majority of Rwandan men. Practically all Western men I’ve met are sex driven, but to this Rwandan extent, making it seem as if this and only this contains their entire personality seems a bit harsh and unrealistic. The lack of caring about dying of AIDS however, I can totally understand in a country where not many people make it over fifty anyways. The brainwashed induced violence, I can understand as well; it’s not like that kind of stuff only happens in Africa.
As for the story itself, I first thought it was mainly autobiographical, but then after finishing it, found out that Gil Courtemanche was in Paris during the time of the genocide in 1994. He did meet Gentille, but there was never a love story there. After discovering this, I only got more frustrated about Valcourt refusing to leave Rwanda when shit was already hitting the fan. I believe this was written so to depict the love for Rwanda as a country. Also, if Valcourt had left, we wouldn’t have been able to ‘see’ the genocide from up close. Still, frustrating!
I gave this one 4 stars, because it was so intense and shocked me to the core. The numerous sexual explicities didn’t have to be so, well, numerous for me, but I guess when you’re going for raw storytelling as an author, you’ll get the most of out it when you can.
Highly recommended to people who heard about the Hutus and the Tutsis, but don’t really know what was truly going on. Not so recommended to people who don’t like/want to read about women getting raped in the most brutal ways. Neither do I, by the way, but if you truly want to know about the horrors that happened, you can’t just read about the landscape for 300 pages.