This month’s discussion book, Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron was the 2010 winner of the Bellweather Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. This powerful novel follows the life of Jean Patrick Nkuba, a talented young Rwandan runner with dreams of racing for his country in the Olympics. The ten year span of the book culminates in Jean Patrick running for his life amidst the violent genocide that overcomes Rwanda in April of 1994. The rich characters, emotional story and complex historical context made for a wonderful
With only a few exceptions, the group liked this book. Those who didn’t, cited some of the author’s contrived metaphors and trouble connecting to the young protagonist.
- We discussed the role of fiction as a means of exploring the human side of history. Because fiction allows the reader to experience empathy, many of us agreed that it is a powerful medium for telling these stories.
- Several members of the group talked about how this book prompted them to learn more about the genocide. The book was about the human side of the story and as a result we desired greater knowledge and understanding of the historical, political and socio-economic factors that played a role in the conflict.
- We talked about the media’s role in conflicts like this and also about the lack of action by the United Nations and the rest of the Western World.
- We were all very interested in the aftermath of the genocide and in Rwanda’s current state. We agreed to do a little research on our own and discuss what we found at the next meeting.
- The group wished the author had included a glossary in the back of the book. Often she would provide a definition in the text, but we all wanted to know the meaning of many of the words and phrases that were interspersed throughout the book.
This book is highly recommended for book clubs because of its powerful human story, richly drawn characters and thought-provoking historical context.
Please join us for our next Book Discussion on Monday, May 13 at 11:00 a.m. We will be reading Nightwoods by Charles Frazier.