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Scholastique Mukasonga in conversation with Timothy Longman

October 28 @ 4:00 pm

Join us on Thursday, October 28 at 4PM EST for On Mourning and Exile: Looking Back at Rwanda, a virtual conversation between Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga and Timothy Longman on grief in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The event will be presented by Roger Williams University Library and Scholars at Risk-US in association with the African Studies Association and Archipelago Books.

Zadie Smith called The Barefoot Woman, Mukasonga’s tribute to her mother and a striking portrait of life before the genocide, “a powerful work of witness and memorial, a loving act of reconstruction, and an unflinching reckoning with the Rwandan Civil War. In sentences of great beauty and restraint, Mukasonga rescues a million souls from the collective noun ‘genocide,’ returning them to us as individual human beings, who lived, laughed, meddled in each other’s affairs, worked, decorated their houses, raised children, told stories. An essential and powerful read.”

Mukasonga’s latest book, Igifu, is a collection of autobiographical stories that rends 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. J.M. Coetzee wrote that these stories “breathe upon a vanished world and bring it to life in all its sparkling multifariousness.”

You can find the link to register for On Mourning and Exile: Looking Back at Rwanda here. The event will stream live on Zoom.

Born in Rwanda in 1956, Scholastique Mukasonga experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of the ethnic conflicts that shook her country. In 1960, her family was displaced to the polluted and under-developed Bugesera district of Rwanda. Mukasonga was later forced to leave the school of social work in Butare and flee to Burundi. She settled in France in 1992, only 2 years before the brutal genocide of the Tutsi swept through Rwanda. In the aftermath, Mukasonga learned that 37 of her family members had been massacred. Twelve years later, Gallimard published her autobiographical account Inyenzi ou les Cafards (Cockroaches), which marked Mukasonga’s entry into literature. This was followed by the publication of La femme aux pieds nus (The Barefoot Woman) in 2008 and L’Iguifou (Igifu) in 2010, both widely praised. Her first novel, Our Lady Of The Nile, won the Ahamadou Kourouma prize and the Renaudot prize in 2012, as well as the Océans France Ô prize in 2013 and the French Voices Award in 2014; it was also shortlisted for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award. In 2019, The Barefoot Woman was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature. In 2019, her novel Our Lady Of The Nile was adapted into a film by Atiq Rahimi. The film won the “Crystal Bear” at Berlinale 2020 and was part of the Official Selection for TIFF 2019.

Timothy Longman is a professor of political science and international relations and is the Director of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) and the Director ad interim of the African Studies Center in the Pardee School. His research focuses on state-society relations in Africa, looking in particular at human rights, transitional justice, religion and politics, gender and politics, and the politics of race and ethnicity. He has published two books with Cambridge University Press, Memory and Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda (2017) and Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda (2010). He is currently working on a book comparing church-state relations throughout Africa. He served for eight years as the director of BU’s African Studies Center.

For more information and to register, please follow the link here.

We look forward to seeing you there!


October 28
4:00 pm