"Look, for people who're going to be dead soon, we're not doing too badly."
"The novel of the year" is what La Presse called this extraordinary book, a love story that takes place in the days leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A first work of fiction by one of French Canada's most admired journalists, Gil Courtemanche, it was first published in Quebec in 2000, spent more than a year on bestseller lists and won the Prix des Libraires, the booksellers' award for outstanding book of the year. Rights were sold to publishers in over twenty countries in Europe and around the world. This humanist story of an unlikely love affair set against a holocaust has become an internationally acclaimed phenomenon, worthy of comparison with the work of Graham Greene and Albert Camus.
The swimming pool of the Mille-Collines hotel, Kigali, in the early 1990s, draws a regular crowd of assorted aid workers, strutting Rwandan officials, Belgian businessmen, French paratroops and Canadian expats. Among them is Bernard Valcourt, a documentary filmmaker from Quebec, on a mission to set up a television station in the capital. Valcourt, who for two decades has earned his living from wars and famines, lingers around the pool drinking warm beer and watching football; but most of all, watching Gentille, a beautiful young waitress, who is a Hutu but often mistaken for a Tutsi because of her family's strange history.
The trouble coming stems from a long conflict, instigated in colonial times by Whites who treated Tutsis as superior to Hutus. The Hutu government is now openly encouraging violence against Tutsis. The physical traits of the Tutsis make them easy prey, but they are not the only ones in danger. Too many people are already dying in Rwanda daily: of AIDS, of malaria, and increasingly at roadblocks at the hands of drunken militia, or pulled from their homes. The hotel staff and prostitutes sense trouble and death drawing closer as they continue providing drinks and meals and sex.
The story of this developing catastrophe is revealed through the lives of a handful of Rwandans who befriend Valcourt. They confide in him because he listens, and because his interviews offer them a chance to try to change the way things are by telling the world. Their candour and warmth begin to make his heart glow. He meets people like Méthode, who knows a bloodbath is brewing and would rather die of AIDS in the comfort of a hotel room than by a machete. Threatened, frightened, sick, they don't want to talk and act like they're dying. Poor as they are, they want to have some moments of pleasure and celebrate life.
As Kigali life continues in its resourcefulness and persistence, Valcourt is falling in love with Rwanda, and with Gentille, who loves him because he sees her as no-one has seen her before. Even as the worst horrors begin, as friends are raped and murdered, he starts to feel a strange peace in this land of a thousand hills, though he repudiates the outside world for its failure to intervene. Because Gentille is thought to be Tutsi, her life is in danger. Still, no-one can believe that the extremists will go too far, that brothers and sisters will kill brothers and sisters, and that 800,000 civilians will be massacred.
A hard-hitting chronicle of an overlooked chapter of recent history, told with skill and compassion, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is also a celebration of living in the moment, of the integrity of friendship and the courage of everyday heroes. Harrowing, unsettling, challenging, but beautiful and moving, it is a book that cannot leave the reader untouched; as a Quill & Quire reviewer said, it is "full of real people that demand to be remembered."
The long-awaited new book from the acclaimed short story writer, author of The Elizabeth Stories and You Never Know.
Belonging is pure pleasure to read -- entertaining, beautifully written, laced with gentle humour and perceptive insights. Shifting from memoir to fiction, it focuses on the commonplace experiences underlying our lives that are the true basis for storytelling. At the book's core is Isabel Huggan's old house in rural France, from where she contemplates the real meaning of "home," and the mysterious manner in which memory gives substance to ordinary things around us. With a light touch, she brings to life the people she has met in her travels from whom valuable lessons have been learned.
Isabel Huggan writes with the candour and compassion that made her earlier books so well loved, and here she speaks even more clearly from the heart. Belonging is an intimate conversation between the narrator who needs to examine her life because it has not turned out as she expected, and her readers, who will find their own concerns illuminated in surprising ways. Slowly, a pattern emerges as certain motifs become apparent: happiness, friendship, landscape, language, heartache. As the book draws to a close, readers will understand the fictional character who says, "There is nothing in our lives that doesn't fit."
From the Hardcover edition.
This extraordinary little book has the power to heal and foster relationships, console and empower individuals, create community and help save the world by providing a spiritual ecology for our daily lives.
Think that's a bold claim? It is, but it's also true. We can all be generous with our money when an occasion like Christmas rolls around, or when disaster strikes as it did with the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. But Lucinda Vardey and John Dalla Costa say that this kind of giving segregates generosity, and makes it a special activity only for special times. If we're truly going to help this troubled world, as individuals we must investigate other possibilities for being generous as well, by helping those we interact with every day: our children, colleagues, parents, friends and the homeless men and women we encounter when out and about in our cities. We learn that the four most generous words in the English language are "I'm sorry" and "Thank you." We learn that if we ask, "What do you need?" we may be surprised how readily we can provide assistance, and how a single generous act may turn into something that circulates to include many.
Lucinda and John are a married couple who have committed-they say "humbly and imperfectly"-to making generosity a central practice in their daily lives. What they refer to as their art of right living, within family, work and community, is both a mode of being and a value that infiltrates all others. Generosity inspires and guides them, and continually tests and teaches them. This book is filled with true stories they've collected about generosity in action. Being Generous is their gift to readers, written to enable and encourage us to follow the generous way.
She was famous for her work with the poor in the streets of Calcutta. One day a beggar by the road ran up to her with a small coin-financially worthless to anyone but him. It was his day's take on a long, hot and humid day, and he wanted to give it to her. She pondered what to do. If she took the money then he would have nothing at all, but if she rejected him, it would not only hurt him but insult his generosity. She stretched out her hand-he, who never had the chance to give, could give to Mother Teresa. The joy on his face said everything to her.
The Lesson: Saying no to another's offer denies them the joy of giving. Accepting what they wish to give-even if you don't need it-is what practising true generosity is about.
--from Being Generous
From the Hardcover edition.
Approaching his seventh birthday after writing five books, young Bertie learns an unfortunate lesson about the dangers of wish-fulfillment, while Angus and Domenica contemplate a vacation romance in Italy and Big Lou evaluates the merits of cosmetic surgery. Reprint. 75,000 first printing.
The Imaginary Girlfriend is a candid memoir of the writers and wrestlers who played a role in John Irving's development as a novelist and as a wrestler. It also portrays a father's dedication yes'>#8212; Irving coached his two sons to championship titles. It is an illuminating, concise work, a literary treasure.
From the Trade Paperback edition.