In an interview with Julian Lucas for The White Review, Scholastique Mukasonga discusses – among other things – her movement from autobiography to fiction, and the historical and cultural contexts of colonialism, gender roles, and the Catholic Church in her writing about the Rwandan genocide. She also dwells on what it means to write Rwandan history in French, and the linguistic futures of emerging writers in her country. You can read the interview here, and an excerpt below:
“But I believe that I will never stop writing about Rwanda: there is so much more to write about this lost, murdered, recovering, reborn country. There are few Rwandan writers, and among them, even fewer women. I know my books are needed. It’s as though I receive orders from young Rwandans who thirst to rediscover a culture so long obscured and despised. Writing to meet their expectations has become a duty, but also a pleasure. All I have to do is dig into the trunk of my mother’s tales.”
Scholastique Mukasonga spoke with Kaiama L. Glover about her new collection of short stories, Igifu. Glover is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French & Africana Studies at Barnard College and Faculty Director of the Barnard Digital Humanities Center. Her teaching and research focuses on francophone Caribbean literature and postcolonialism, among other topics.
Scholastique Mukasonga joined Martha Cooley at the Community Bookstore to present her new story collection, Igifu. You can watch the conversation – beautifully interpreted by Ellen Sowchek – at the link below.
The autobiographical stories in Igifu rend a glorious Rwanda from the obliterating force of recent history, conjuring the noble cows of her home or the dew-swollen grass they graze on. In the title story, five-year-old Colomba is rescued from merciless igifu, or hunger, by her mother’s healing porridge. This elixir courses through each story, a balm to soothe the pains of those so ferociously fighting for survival.
Martha Cooley is a contributing editor at A Public Space, a professor of English at Adelphi University, and a co-translator of work by Antonio Tabucchi.
Ellen Sowchek is a French-English translator and interpreter. This is her third time interpreting for an event at the Community Bookstore.